US tries to get Ahmad back from Pakistani officials

Former Ohio official escapes to Pakistan via Mexico with cash, fake passport

Federal fugitive and former Ohio treasury official Amer Ahmad crossed into Mexico on foot, bought a fake Pakistani passport and visa and arrived Monday morning at the airport in Lahore with some $176,000 in cash and an encrypted laptop, according to a newspaper report in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency arrested Ahmad for trying to enter the country with fake documents and then discovered that he was wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for skipping bond on a public corruption case, according to The News International.

The FBI and U.S. Consulate in Pakistan are in contact with the FIA and the Pakistani Ministry of Interior to try to get access to Ahmad, said Shahid Aslam, reporter for The News International.

Messages seeking comment on Ahmad and this latest turn of events were not returned by Ahmad’s family members or his criminal defense attorney Karl Schneider.

“U.S. officials at this point are declining to comment,” said Fred Alverson, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

The extradition treaty between the U.S. and United Kingdom that governed the area was signed in 1931 before Pakistan became a country in 1947. As a result, Pakistan has not always cooperated with extraditing people wanted by the U.S. Aslam said because Ahmad was born in Pakistan and moved to the United States as a toddler, he is both a U.S. national and a Pakistani national.

“U.S. officials are pressing hard to get their man but I don’t know what will happen to him,” he said.

Ahmad, 39, grew up in Canton, earned degrees from Columbia University and Harvard University, worked in the financial markets and was hired as a top aide in the Ohio treasurer’s office under Democrat Richard Cordray. He was promoted to deputy treasurer by Democrat Kevin Boyce but left the office after Boyce lost the election to Republican Josh Mandel.

During the Boyce administration, Ahmad masterminded a scheme that steered $3.2 million in commissions to a high school buddy in exchange for $523,000 in kickbacks to Ahmad and two co-conspirators. Ahmad pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy and bribery charges and was free on bond awaiting sentencing when he fled.

The News International reported that:

— FIA Immigration officials detained Ahmad when arrived at Lahore International Airport on a flight from Mexico around 8 a.m. Monday carrying fake documents and cash in Euros and dollars;

— Soon after his arrest, FBI authorities contacted FIA officials for Ahmad’s deportation but Pakistani officials told the Americans to follow the proper legal procedures;

— FIA investigators secured a three-day remand of Ahmad from a court on Tuesday;

— Initially, Ahmad did not disclose his true identity and told investigators: “I love Pakistan and came back to settle down here for good.”

— FIA authorities decoded Ahmad’s laptop and found evidence of a conversation with his wife, Samar Kaukab Ahmad, that detailed how he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on foot, bought a fake passport and visa from an agent named Eduardo Le Meridien for $600 in the name of Faisal Sami.

Aslam said Ahmad is being held in Lahore and is represented by counsel there. Aslam said he doesn’t know if Ahmad’s relatives in Lahore have contacted Pakistani authorities about him and his arrest.

His wife petitioned a court in Cook County for a protection order against Ahmad on Thursday, saying he wanted her to get him a fake birth certificate so he could get a bogus Pakistani passport. She said in the petition that he had been physically and verbally abusive and threatening. The couple have three children ages 2, 6 and 7.

Before news of the bribery scandal broke, Ahmad was known as an intelligent, charming man with impressive credentials, a taste for Brooks Brothers suits and a bright future as a rising star in Democratic political circles. As deputy state treasurer, Ahmad was entrusted to manage Ohio’s $11 billion treasury portfolio and $9 billion in state debt obligations and serve as custodian for more than $150 billion in public pension fund assets.

After he left the Ohio treasurer’s office in late 2010, he was appointed comptroller for the city of Chicago for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who used to serve as President Obama’s chief of staff.

“I fully anticipate that Mr. Ahmad will be held accountable for the crimes he has plead guilty to — the sooner the better,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. “Hopefully, the Pakistanis will turn Mr. Ahmad over to the Americans so we can commence with sentencing.”

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