New York Papers Scrutinize Meeks Loan Scandal Figure

Meeks photoEdul Ahmad, the Guyanese-born businessman who made an unsecured $40,000 loan to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), is today scrutinized by the New York Times and New York Post. Reporters started digging on Meeks after NLPC raised questions about the Queens congressman’s finances, beginning in January.

According to the New York Times piece by Danny Hakim:

The generous terms of the loan have raised questions about Mr. Ahmad and his political relationships. New details about Mr. Ahmad’s past emerged after The New York Times submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the New York Department of State, which investigates improprieties by licensed real estate brokers. Mr. Ahmad has been the defendant in five cases investigated by the department involving allegations of fraud and predatory lending.

From the same Times article:

State records lay out a variety of allegations against Mr. Ahmad. In one case he was accused of having one of his sales agents pose as a buyer so that Mr. Ahmad himself could purchase a property at a low price, unbeknownst to his client, the seller. In another case, a couple who bought a home and used Mr. Ahmad as an agent claimed that their signatures were forged on a number of documents, leaving them with monthly payments far higher than they could afford.

The Times also focuses on Ahmad’s relationship with New York State Senate Leader John Sampson, who has done legal work for Ahmad. The New York Post story by Melissa Klein is apparently based on the same document reviewed by the Times.

From the New York Post:

Allegations of predatory lending, forged documentation, falsified mortgage info and missing records have dogged Rep. Gregory Meeks’ private lender for years, The Post has learned.

State officials have investigated Queens real-estate broker Edul Ahmad — who loaned Meeks $40,000 in 2007 — five times since 2006, referring two of those probes to the Queens District Attorney’s Office for review, according to state Department of State records obtained by The Post.

In one case, a woman claimed Ahmad’s Century 21 Realty persuaded her to buy a $714,000 home she could not afford.

The woman, whose annual income was only $30,000, was told to get co-applicants for a loan through Ace Mortgage Inc., which is also owned by Ahmad, according to state records.

When she told Ahmad she could not afford a $5,000-a-month mortgage, he simply told her to come back in six months and refinance it, state records show.

But the refinance was declined and she lost her home to foreclosure.

When we first exposed Meeks involvement with a charity that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims that never received the funds, Meeks alleged some sort of right wing conspiracy between us and the New York Post, echoing allegations made by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) whose tax evasion and Caribbean junkets we also exposed with the help of the Post.

In recent weeks, Meeks has been the subject of original reporting by the New York Daily News and the New York Times. On July 11, Meeks put out a statement defending the secret loan from Ahmad and criticizing “right-wing interest groups such as the National Legal and Policy Center and sensationalist media outlets.” Thus, Meeks had to back off his fingering of the New York Post.

Now he is going to have to stop fingering “right wing” interest groups because on  July 13 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging that the terms of the Ahmad loan, and Meeks failure to disclose it, violated House Rules.

The newspaper headlines reportedly touched off a federal grand jury investigation of Meeks and other New York city politicians. Apparently, it was only after the FBI asked questions about the 2007 loan that Meeks for the first time disclosed it and hastily paid it back.

If the scrutiny of Meeks leads to legal problems for Ahmad, it is possible that they could be lightened if Ahmad is willing to provide prosecutors with information on Meeks. At this point, prosecutors may have a better idea than reporters or outside ethics groups of what exactly Ahmad got from Meeks, if anything, in return for the loan, which had more of the appearance of a gift.

So far, this has been a local New York story. I am not aware that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said anything about Meeks, or has even been asked about his problems. With a certain swampiness now surrounding Meeks and Ahmad, this is sure to change soon.


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Rep. Gregory Meeks’ Charity Looks More Like Slush Fund