Former Islamic center director pleads guilty to embezzling funds, committing fraud
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The former director of a local Islamic center pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to embezzling funds from the mosque, defrauding public housing, and filing for fraudulent COVID assistance funds.
Ahmed A. Sh. Ahmed, 43, of Gahanna, admitted in federal court today to committing wire fraud, submitting a false statement and making a false statement.
According to court documents, from at least 2009 until March 2019, Ahmed was employed as the Director of the Ibn Taymiyah Masjid and Islamic Center (ITMIC) on Mock Road in Columbus.
During his tenure as director, Ahmed used his position of trust to embezzle funds from the religious organization. Specifically, Ahmed wrote unauthorized checks from ITMIC’s accounts to himself. Each year from 2015 through 2018, Ahmed increased the amount he embezzled, writing himself $4,500 in checks in 2015; approximately $11,000 in checks in 2016; $12,900 in checks in 2017; and approximately $21,000 in checks in 2018.
Ahmed spent thousands of dollars of ITMIC funds to pay his own personal credit card bill and towards the purchase of his own personal vehicle.
Ahmed also defrauded the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority’s housing choice voucher program. From 2014 until at least 2020, Ahmed submitted false claims to obtain housing subsidies he would not otherwise qualify for given his true income and assets.
The defendant falsely claimed his personal income was $18,000 annually and did not report any household assets. In reality, Ahmed and his wife deposited more than $235,000 into their bank accounts from 2014 through 2018.
Finally, Ahmed fraudulently applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance nine times from August until October 2020. During that same time frame, Ahmed generated at least $4,000 in revenue by producing and posting approximately 126 YouTube videos to his YouTube channel.
As part of his plea, Ahmed will pay more than $37,400 in restitution to the Islamic center.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Making and submitting false claims are federal crimes that carry a potential maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati division; and Jerome Winkle II, Acting Special Agent in Charge, HUD-OIG, announced the plea entered today before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. Assistant United States Attorney Jessica W. Knight is representing the United States in this case.
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