Chicago, the Shame of a Nation
It should come as a surprise to just about nobody that Chicago is the most corrupt big city in America, and long has been. The setting for the godfather of all gangster movies -- Scarface, the Shame of a Nation, starring Paul Muni as a thinly disguised Al Capone, directed by Howard Hawks -- Chicago has flaunted its outlaw status in the country's face for nearly a century. And continues to do so, now that one of its own occupies the White House.
Consider this news item, which got no play in the national media beyond the Windy City, whose newspapers have long understood the criminal nature of their municipal government -- even if, in the grand tradition of Jake Lingle, they occasionally act as incubators for members of the party. It seems that the former city comptroller, Amer Ahmad -- a convicted criminal nonetheless hired by mayor Rahm Emanuel to oversee the city's finances-- is now on the lam; hardly a surprise coming from adherents of the criminal organization masquerading as a political party.
Facing up to 15 years in prison and stripped of his U.S. passport, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former city comptroller ordered his wife this week “to get him a fake birth certificate from Pakistan for a passport,” according to court records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. Now, Amer Ahmad is on the lam, and a judge issued a warrant Friday for his arrest...
Ahmad — who has continued to live in Chicago since resigning from his $165,000-a-year City Hall post last summer — pleaded guilty in December to being part of a large kickback and money-laundering scheme when he was Ohio’s deputy state treasurer.
The crimes occurred before Ahmad joined Emanuel’s administration in April 2011. An outside investigation that City Hall commissioned to review Ahmad’s conduct revealed no criminal wrongdoing by Ahmad or his staff. That investigation cost Chicago taxpayers $825,000.
Left unanswered is why Ahmad was hired in the first place to mind the city's money. But don't worry -- he didn't cost Chicagoans one red cent!
Chicago taxpayers spent $825,000 to find out that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s now-convicted former City Comptroller Amer Ahmad did not cost them a penny beyond his $165,000-a-year salary. The $825,000 was paid to the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and the accounting firm of Grant Thornton for a 47-page report that concluded that Ahmad did not defraud cash-strapped Chicago as he did in Ohio...
An embarrassed Emanuel flatly denied that he should have known about Ahmad’s alleged wrongdoing in Ohio and promised an exhaustive investigation — with Inspector General Joe Ferguson and Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton overseeing the forensic audit.
Ahmad was raised in Ohio by Pakistani immigrant parents. After his guilty plea, Ahmad remained free on bail but surrendered his passport. Though his sentencing date hasn’t been set, he faces up to 15 years in prison and has agreed to pay $3.2 million in restitution. Ahmad had been a rising star in the Emanuel administration before abruptly resigning last summer, saying he wanted to seek a job in the private sector...
Ahmad pleaded guilty in December to federal conspiracy and bribery charges, admitting he used his Ohio government position to secure “lucrative state business” for Douglas Hampton — his high school classmate and financial adviser — “in exchange for payments” to himself and others.
In his plea agreement, Ahmad said Hampton made secret payments to him, and, as Ohio’s deputy treasurer, he steered state securities brokerage work to Hampton. Prosecutors said Ahmad and a business partner — Joseph M. Chiavaroli, also of Chicago — hid those payments by passing them through an Ohio landscaping company they owned.
Interestingly, there's somebody named "Mohammed" involved in this story as well. And who is he? According to his indictment, he's an immigration lawyer who last December pleaded guilty to federal charges of "aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud" as part of the general indictment of Ahmad et al. for bribery and money laundering.
Hampton also funneled cash to Mohammed Noure Alo, an attorney, lobbyist and close friend of Ahmad from Columbus. Altogether, Hampton got about $3.2 million in commissions for 360 trades on behalf of the Ohio state treasurer’s office. Ahmad and his co-conspirators — who have all pleaded guilty — got more than $500,000 from Hampton, according to prosecutors.
For more news on "the city that works," please turn the page --
In yet more embarrassment for the Godfather, the Sun-Times also reports:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is tightening the reins on cash handling to eliminate an embarrassing lack of oversight that allegedly allowed a low-level clerk in the Chicago Department of Transportation to embezzle nearly $750,000 in permit fees over a six-year period.
In a memo to department heads, City Comptroller Dan Widawsky argued that “recent events have highlighted the risks associated with cash management” and the importance of “robust controls to manage” those risks. “We are the custodians of our city’s resources and you and your finance staff are critical to ensuring that such resources are safeguarded,” Widawsky wrote.
How could such a thing happen, you ask? Easily, as it turns out:
Antoinette Chenier, 50, was accused this week of embezzling $25 to $200 at a time by taking in hundreds of checks that Chicagoans wrote for permits to park moving vans and dumpsters on city streets since 2008, then depositing them into her own accounts. The long-running petty theft allegedly snagged Chenier $741,000, more than 12 times her $60,000-a-year salary.
It wasn't until January, when Charter One bank staff noticed the unusual activity on one of Chenier's accounts and froze it, that she was nailed by a joint investigation that included the FBI, the IRS and Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s office. Chenier also lived in suburban Homewood, in violation of the city’s residency rule.
An account given in the federal complaint of Chenier’s undoing by a Charter One bank employee showed the alleged theft was stunning in its lack of sophistication. Chenier had opened a bank account called "OEMC Chenier," in which she deposited permit checks made payable to the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communication, according to the complaint. But when quizzed by the bank worker about the deposits, she allegedly claimed they were "all fine."
Asked if the check makers would have the same response, she allegedly then told the bank worker, "Please don't call the check makers. I will lose my job."
She allegedly told the banker she'd be willing to pay back the money and asked the banker "not to report this," then claimed that her intent in opening the account was to start a cleaning business named "Office of Emergency Management and Cleaning" but that the business had failed, the complaint alleges. When the banker then told her that her actions could be construed as embezzling, she allegedly responded, "Please don't use those words."
As the Left has taught us, words are far more important than deeds. Words can be hurtful; words can make you cry; words add up to a million little micro-aggressions. Besides, being a Democrat means never having to say you're sorry, even if you eventually have to plead guilty. No doubt, going forward, the city of Chicago will be far more watchful of the taxpayers' money under its new city comptroller. Which brings up back full circle to Ahmad:
The alleged CDOT theft is the first major scandal to be handled by Widawsky, whose predecessor Amer Ahmad pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery in December for his role in a kickback and money-laundering scheme in Ohio that occurred when he served as Ohio's deputy state treasurer. He faces up to 15 years in prison after agreeing to pay $3.2 million in restitution.
You can't make this stuff up. And you don't have to. As I wrote here, it's long past time to break out the RICO statute and break up the Democrats.