According to the affidavit, the scheme resulted in a series of wire transfers from the PR firm that ultimately netted Ament $205,000 to make it appear he had enough cash on hand to secure the home loan. The affidavit further outlines how Ament allegedly used some of that money for the down payment and a portion of it to make an out-of-escrow payment to the seller. Per the affidavit, Ament made a $200,000 payment to the seller in an apparent effort to reduce the sale price of the home – thus reducing property taxes and lowering the commission to the seller’s real estate agent, the affidavit outlines.
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The scheme appears to be part of a broader “cabal,” as outlined in the affidavit. The investigation found Ament and the political consultant had a close relationship spanning several years that included a group of Anaheim public officials, consultants and business leaders. The group – described by Ament and the political consultant as a “family” and “cabal” – regularly met at so-called retreats to allegedly exert influence over government operations in Anaheim, as outlined in the affidavit.
According to justice officials, Ament and the political consultant are also accused of devising a scheme to divert proceeds meant for the chamber of commerce through the PR firm and into Ament’s personal bank account. The affidavit further alleges Ament and the consultant schemed to defraud a cannabis company that had retained the political consultant to lobby for favorable cannabis-related legislation in Anaheim. The cannabis firm paid $225,000 to the chamber of commerce with the understanding that it would have access to a task force that crafted such legislation, officials said, but at least $31,000 of that money was paid directly to Ament without those payments being disclosed to the client.
The charge of making false statements to a financial institution carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.