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Former president, CEO of Anaheim Chamber of Commerce faces federal charge of lying to a mortgage lender

Sale of Angel Stadium put on hold amid FBI corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu
Sale of Angel Stadium put on hold amid FBI corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu 03:35

The former president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce has been charged with lying to a mortgage lender while seeking a loan for a $1.5 million home in Big Bear City.

In a 99-page criminal complaint, 57-year-old Todd Ament of Orange was charged with making false statements in late 2020 to a financial institution while seeking funding to purchase a five-bedroom home in the San Bernardino Mountains, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

In a scheme devised with an unnamed political consultant, Ament laundered $205,000 intended for the chamber through a PR firm and into Ament's bank account so it would look like he had enough cash on hand to secure the home loan, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint. Prosecutors say Ament used some of those funds as a down payment and to make an out-of-escrow, $200,000 payment to the seller in an apparent effort to lower the sale price of the house and reduce its property taxes, and the commission to the seller's real estate agent.

Prosecutors say Ament and the political consultant were part of a "family" or "cabal" made up of Anaheim public officials, consultants, and business leaders that regularly met at "retreats" to exert influence over the city's government operations. The San Bernardino mountains home purchase wasn't the first time the two worked together, according to prosecutors — the pair also allegedly devised a scheme to defraud a cannabis company that had retained the political consultant to lobby for favorable cannabis-related legislation in Anaheim. At least $31,000 of $225,000 paid to the chamber by the cannabis company, which believed it would get access to a task force that crafted such legislation, went directly to Ament without the knowledge of the client, federal prosecutors said.

Ament, who faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison if convicted as charged, is expected to appear in federal court Tuesday. 

The charges against Ament come the same day after a judge put the $320 million Angel Stadium deal in Anaheim on hold due to an ongoing FBI corruption probe involving Mayor Harry Sidhu.

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