As public corruption allegations rain down on Anaheim from the FBI, the former president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce now faces actual charges.
In a Monday filing announced today, FBI officials tie the former Chamber of Commerce leader to what they term a cabal that meets regularly at retreats and runs Anaheim.
Todd Ament, 57, of Orange, was charged in a 99-page criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court around false statements he allegedly made while seeking funding in late 2020 to purchase a $1.5 million, five-bedroom residence in Big Bear City.
Ament’s attorney, a criminal defense lawyer named Salvatore Ciulla, couldn’t be reached for comment.
According to federal officials, Ament – with the assistance of an unnamed political consultant who federal officials describe as a partner at a national public relations firm – devised a scheme to launder proceeds intended for the Chamber through the PR firm into Ament’s bank account, authorities say.
Federal officials say Ament and the PR consultant defrauded a cannabis company that believed it was paying $225,000 for a task force that would craft favorable legislation regarding cannabis.
But authorities say at least $31,000 of the money was paid directly to Ament without those payments being disclosed to the client.
“They [Ament and the consultant] were not given influence over drafting a proposed cannabis ordinance as promised,” wrote FBI agent Brian Adkins in the Monday complaint.
In fact, Adkins wrote, they “appeared to have advocated against the interests of [the Cannabis company] despite having solicited, and collected, a significant amount of money from them.”
Authorities say Ament appeared to influence a lender’s decision to fund the mortgage with a loan from the PR firm, engineered by the political consultant.
“I believe Ament and (the political consultant) have been successful in completing the aforementioned schemes, and possibly others, because, at the time, they both occupied positions of influence within the City of Anaheim,” Adkins wrote.
The federal complaint later goes on to detail Ament’s role in what Adkins – in another document made public on Monday – described as “a small cadre of individuals,” under which the City of Anaheim sat “tightly controlled.”
In conversations alleged by Adkins’ affidavit, Ament and the political consultant appeared to discuss which members of the Anaheim City Council they could trust in 2020, and who they trusted enough to bring into their “cabal.”
“He is smart enough to know how to take hall passes where he needs them, but not screw with your team,” Ament allegedly said, during a conversation with the political consultant, of one elected official who Adkins also wouldn’t name.
When he appeared in court in the afternoon, Ament quietly answered yes to several questions from a federal judge and at one point was asked to speak up.
He was ordered to appear at an arraignment on June 21 and released on a $30,000 bond.
Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda contributed reporting.