By Rich Bockmann
One of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks’ (D-Jamaica) friends, a real estate agent who gave the congressman $40,000 in 2007, faces a hefty sentence after he pleaded guilty last week to a scheme in which he defrauded banks to secure mortgages for unqualified homeowners in southeast Queens.
Edul Ahmad — or Ed, as he is known by the congressman — faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine after he pleaded guilty Oct. 10 in Brooklyn federal court to conspiring to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.
There was speculation that during the trial prosecutors prodded Ahmad to give up information about a House Ethics Committee investigation looking into the $40,000 he gave to Meeks.
Authorities said that since 1995 Ahmad and his co-conspirators used straw buyers and falsified mortgage applications in order to swindle more than $50 million from a dozen Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-backed lending institutions.
The straw buyers would receive a payout for standing in for the homes’ true purchasers, who could not get a mortgage loan in many cases.
As evidence against Ahmad, prosecutors laid out nine specific incidences where he ran his scam to get loans for homes in Hollis, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and Jamaica.
By the time Ahmad was indicted in 2011, the Office of Congressional Ethics had traced a home equity loan Meeks had taken out in 2010 back to the $40,000 he received from his pal.
According to the office’s report, Ahmad gave Meeks the money in 2007, though the congressman failed to report the money in either his 2007, 2008 or 2009 financial disclosure statements.
Days before he was to file his 2010 disclosures, Meeks took out a $59,650 home equity loan from another friend’s company, Four M Investments LLC, which he used to pay Ahmad back, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics.
The owner of Four M told investigators there was a sense of urgency to get the deal done and that the congressman’s lawyers were compelled to have Meeks pay back Ahmad the balance plus a high interest rate so the $40,000 appeared as a legitimate loan, according to the report.
In the report submitted to and accepted by the Ethics Committee, the OCE said Meeks proved uncooperative by failing to submit requested documents and be interviewed.
Meeks released a statement addressing both Ahmad’s case and the ongoing Ethics Committee investigation.
“I read reports today about the guilty verdict in the Ed Ahmad case. My thoughts and prayers are with those who were affected by these crimes, and with Ed and his family,” he said. “With regard to the Ethics Committee, as I have said in the past, I have cooperated fully with the committee and expect to be treated fairly. I hope the committee completes its process sooner rather than later.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.