Planning to avoid a prison sentence by fleeing the country? Warning: you may get caught.
Just ask Amer Ahmad, the former Rahm Emanuel aide-turned-fugitive whose cable-TV-drama attempt to seek refuge in Pakistan resulted in his arrest on Monday. He "tells all" in a newly revealed five-page journal account of his botched escape plan entitled Journey to Freedom: Who Said Escaping Injustice Would Be Easy?
Ahmad -- who served as Chicago comptroller from April 2011 until he abruptly resigned last summer -- was detained after landing in the Pakistani city of Lahore with a forged visa, passport and birth certificate as well as $176,000 in cash. The 39-year-old Ohio native and son of Pakistani immigrants denied being an American citizen, but authorities uncovered his identity with a simple Google search that revealed he was on the lam.
Once a superstar within Emanuel's administration, Ahmad pleaded guilty last December to participating in a kickback and money-laundering operation while he was Ohio's deputy state treasurer. He was freed on bail but was ordered to hand over his passport and pay a $3.2 million fine. He continued living in Chicago with his wife and three children as he awaited a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
The plot thickened last week when the feds issued a warrant for Ahmad's arrest after a Cook County judge granted his wife, Samar, an emergency order of protection against him. She said he was physically abusive and angry over her refusal to help him forge a birth certificate.
Several days before, Ahmad fled Chicago en route to San Diego and then crossed the Mexican border on foot. In his journal, he wrote that he "kept my head down as we passed the last American guards (Homeland Security, my ass) … I said another prayer under my breath and walked through to Mexico. 'Holy s---! I am gone,' was my first thought."
Ahmad said he managed to persuade his unwitting mother to wire money to a Pakistani service that retrieves birth certificates for a $275 fee.
Pakistani authorities seized his phony documents as well as his Google Glass gadget and laptop computer on which his journal was saved.
Asked about his former charge on Wednesday, Emanuel said he had bigger issues on his mind.
Ahmad was selected in 2012 as one of Crain's Chicago Business' "40 Under 40" list-makers. In a video on the business trade's site, he credits the "competitiveness" and "ambition" he learned on Wall Street for his success as a public servant.
He's still under 40 but has zero chance of making that list this year.