Former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce chief named in federal criminal complaint alleging misrepresentation on loan application | USAO-CDCA

SANTA ANA, California – The former president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to appear in federal court this afternoon after being charged with lying to a mortgage lender about his assets while seeking a loan for a $1.5 million home in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Todd Ament, 57, of Orange, was charged in a 99-page criminal complaint filed Monday afternoon in United States District Court with allegedly making false statements to a financial institution while seeking a financing in late 2020 to purchase a second home – a five-bedroom residence in Big Bear City.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint describes a plot in which Ament – ​​with the help of a political consultant who was a partner at a national public relations firm – devised a scheme to launder proceeds intended for the House through the public relations firm in Ament Bank. Account. This injection of cash – which appears to have been a loan from the PR firm engineered by the political consultant – is said to have influenced the lender’s decision to fund the mortgage.

The scheme led to a series of wire transfers from the PR firm that ultimately gave Ament $205,000 and made it appear he had enough cash on hand to secure the home loan, according to the affidavit. Ament would have used part of that money for the down payment, and part would have been used to make an unblocked payment to the seller. The affidavit says Ament made a $200,000 payment directly to the seller in an apparent effort to lower the sale price of the home, thereby reducing property taxes and the commission to the seller’s real estate agent, says the affidavit.

An investigation described in the affidavit revealed that Ament and the political consultant had enjoyed a close relationship for several years, including leading a small group of Anaheim officials, consultants and business leaders. This group — described by Ament and the political consultant as a “family” and a “cabal” — met regularly at “retreats” to allegedly exert influence over government operations in Anaheim, according to the affidavit.

Ament and the political consultant also allegedly devised a scheme to divert proceeds intended for the House through the public relations firm and into Ament’s personal bank account. The affidavit alleges that Ament and the political consultant conspired to defraud a cannabis company that had retained the political consultant to lobby for favorable cannabis legislation in Anaheim. The cannabis company paid $225,000 to the House on the understanding that it would have access to a task force that crafted such legislation, but at least $31,000 of that money went directly to Ament without these payments are disclosed to the client, according to the affidavit.

The charge of making false statements to a financial institution carries a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in federal prison.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that an accused has committed a crime. All accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court.

The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating this case.

Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel H. Ahn, Daniel S. Lim, and Melissa S. Rabbani of the Santa Ana Branch are prosecuting this case.

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