Ohio ex-deputy treasurer pleads guilty to bribery

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A former Ohio deputy treasurer pleaded guilty to charges of federal program bribery and conspiracy on Monday for his role in a kickback scheme.

The government dropped six other counts against Amer Ahmad, including money laundering charges, under the plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court.

Ahmad, of Chicago, faces up to 10 years in prison for the bribery charge and up to five years for conspiracy, prosecutors said. Sentencing for Ahmad, 38, will be scheduled later.

Ahmad decided to move forward with the plea agreement after evaluating the circumstances and considering his family, defense lawyer Karl Schneider said.

The plea came days after Ahmad's friend Mohammed Noure Alo, a Columbus attorney and lobbyist also charged in the scheme, pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge.

Between 2009 and January 2011 Ahmad, Alo and others conspired to use Ahmad's role then as deputy treasurer to direct state brokerage services to Canton-based broker Doug Hampton, who returned more than $500,000 to them in payments, according to court documents. Ahmad and Joseph Chiavaroli, of Chicago, hid such payments using the accounts of a landscaping business in which the two had ownership interests, according to prosecutors.

At the time, Ahmad worked for the state office of then-treasurer Kevin Boyce, a current Democratic state lawmaker who described himself as "shocked and forever stunned" at details of the scheme.

Hampton, who got more than $3 million in commissions for hundreds of trades on behalf of the treasurer's office, also funneled more than $123,000 to Alo, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Records show Boyce learned just after losing the 2010 election that Ahmad was under federal investigation, yet proceeded to recommend him for a job as comptroller for Chicago.

Ahmad resigned as Chicago comptroller in July, before he was indicted. An audit later found no sign that he was involved in such illegal activities while working for the city.

Hampton and Chiavaroli pleaded guilty to charges earlier this year.