Ex-Chicago official pleads not guilty to Ohio corruption charges

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 19, 2013 9:46 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - Chicago's former comptroller pleaded not guilty in federal court on Monday to charges that he took kickbacks and enriched one of his friends while serving as deputy treasurer in Ohio, court documents show.

Amer Ahmad, 38, was charged with conspiracy, bribery, fraud and money laundering over accusations he helped his friend and securities broker, Douglas Hampton, acquire lucrative business from the Ohio treasurer's office, where Ahmad worked from 2008 to 2010, according to the indictment.

Ahmad resigned as Chicago's comptroller on July 23 before news of the charges surfaced. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Ahmad shortly after becoming mayor in 2011.

Chicago officials will conduct an audit of Ahmad's work, said Sarah Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

The indictment is the latest black eye on Emanuel's first term as the mayor of the third-largest city in the United States, which has been mired by municipal and school budget woes, school closings and gun violence.

The indictment said that after Ahmad made sure that Hampton was on the approved broker list for the Ohio treasurer, Hampton made $3.2 million in commissions from trades he did on behalf of the state.

"Hampton received significantly more business from the (state treasurer) than any other brokers approved," the indictment said.

Ahmad's attorneys would not comment on the accusations.

Hampton went to high school with Ahmad and has been his and his wife's personal financial adviser since 1996, according to the indictment.

Hampton is accused of giving Ahmad a $400,000 kickback, disguising it as business loans, the indictment said.

The men used Ahmad's position with the state "to personally enrich themselves, their friends and associates and their businesses," the indictment said.

The alleged corruption occurred from January 2009 to January 2011. During the two years with the treasurer's office in Ohio, Ahmad also served as the state's chief financial officer.

Ahmad, who has been charged with eight counts, was released on Monday without having to post a monetary bond.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)