Four suburban men have been indicted on federal charges related to a fraud scheme involving the sale of 26 gas stations in four states, authorities announced.
A fifth defendant, the brother of one of the other men, was charged separately with tax offenses that came to light through the bank fraud investigation.
The fraud scheme sought more than $10 million in loan proceeds from American Enterprise Bank in Buffalo Grove through the sale of gas stations in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin, according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Two of the defendants, 34-year-old Charnpal Ghuman of North Barrington and 33-year-old Aga Khan of Schaumburg, co-owned the gas stations and sold them to buyers financed by the bank loans and guaranteed in part by the Small Business Administration, authorities said.
The two are alleged to have recruited buyers and arranged the loans through bank loan officer Akash Brahmbhatt, 39, formerly of Naperville and now living in Texas, based on false financial representations.
These included false tax returns prepared by accountant Shital Mehta, 47, of Elk Grove Village, authorities allege.
Aga Khan's brother, 31-year-old Shabbir Khan of Schaumburg, was charged separately with two misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal income tax returns for 2008 and 2009, prosecutors said.
Ghuman was charged with 19 counts of bank fraud, three counts of bank bribery and one count of filing a false federal income tax return.
Aga Khan was charged with four counts of bank fraud.
Both men pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Thursday and remain in custody pending a detention hearing at 10:30 a.m. Monday in federal court.
Their indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $10 million from both, as well as $198,180 in proceeds from the sale of Ghuman's 2005 Porsche Carrera GT Coupe, which authorities allege was bought with fraud proceeds.
Brahmbhatt and Mehta were each charged with one count of bank fraud. They were not arrested and will be arraigned on a yet-to-be-determined date in U.S. District Court.
The scheme involved sales that took place from 2006 to 2009, including properties in the Illinois towns of Macomb, Mendota, New Boston, Rock Island and Silvis as well as ones in the other three states, prosecutors said.
Authorities said Ghuman and Aga Khan gave gifts to Brahmbhatt, including cars, in exchange for his assistance in processing fraudulent loans.
Each count of bank fraud and bank bribery carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The tax charges against Shabbir Khan each carry a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.