LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The former president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges for defrauding a cannabis company, fraudulently obtaining a COVID-relief business loan worth nearly $62,000, lying to a bank while seeking a loan for a $1.5 million second home and cheating on his taxes.
Todd Ament, 57, of Orange, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to two counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.
Ament's plea agreement requires him to cooperate with the government and pay almost $250,000 in back taxes.
U.S. District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha scheduled a Dec. 9 sentencing hearing, at which time Ament will face up to 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, up to 30 years for the false statement count, and a possible three years' imprisonment for the tax count, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Federal prosecutors said Ament schemed with a political consultant who was a partner at a national public relations firm to divert funds intended for the Chamber through the firm and into Ament's personal bank account to help him acquire a home in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Ament also solicited a $225,000 payment from a consultant and a cannabis company to the chamber to create a cannabis task force that would lobby Anaheim officials. Of that amount, $41,000 was paid in kickbacks to Ament, who put the money in his bank account.
In addition the defendant admitted defrauding the Small Business Administration's program providing COVID-19 pandemic relief. He received $61,900 in loans, but used the money for personal expenses such as property taxes on his home and to make purchases at clothing and boating stores.
Ament also acknowledged committing tax fraud by failing to report income.
The initial charge against Ament came a day after a federal search warrant affidavit targeting then-Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu was made public.