COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The former director of an Islamic center in east Columbus pleaded guilty Thursday to embezzling money from the mosque, defrauding the city’s housing voucher program and dodging his tax payments.
Ahmed A. Sh. Ahmed, 43, of Gahanna, admitted in federal court to a series of wire fraud schemes, including writing himself nearly $50,000 in unauthorized checks while serving as director of the Ibn Taymiyah Masjid and Islamic Center (ITMIC) on Mock Road from 2015 to 2019, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker.
Ahmed, who was employed at ITMIC from 2009 to 2019, used the stolen mosque funds to pay off his credit card bill and to buy a personal vehicle, Parker said. He gradually increased the amount of money he embezzled each year, jumping from $4,500 in 2015 to $21,000 in 2018.
From 2014 until at least 2020, Ahmed defrauded the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority’s housing choice voucher program and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund to obtain subsidies or financial help — that he otherwise would not have qualified for — by lying about his true income, Parker said.
Despite Ahmed and his wife depositing more than $235,000 into their bank accounts from 2014 to 2018, the former mosque director claimed his personal income was a mere $18,000 and failed to report any household assets, according to Parker.
Ahmed was ordered to pay $37,400 in restitution to the Islamic center, and he faces up to 25 years in prison for wire fraud and submitting false claims, Parker said.