Wheeling man who made ‘harassing statements’ about Jews in email to attorney found guilty of hate crime

A man pleaded guilty to a hate crime Tuesday for sending an email to a Jewish attorney in Lake in the Hills that included “disparaging comments” about the attorney and his religion.

Asim Ahmed, 38, of Wheeling, entered a guilty plea to the Class 4 felony and was sentenced to one year in prison. When released, he will be on 12 months of mandatory supervised release. He is to serve the prison sentence at 50% and will receive credit for 21 days served in the county jail, according to a sentencing order on file in the McHenry County court. During Ahmed’s mandatory supervised release, he must complete 200 hours of public service and enroll in an educational program discouraging hate crimes involving the protected class identified, prosecutors said.

Ahmed was placed in the custody of the county jail following his plea. In exchange for entering into the plea deal, additional charges of electronic harassment, a Class A misdemeanor, were dismissed, records show.

Ahmed was accused of sending an email including “harassing statements” to attorney David Franks on or about April 30, 2022, “by reason of his perceived or actual religion,” the complaint and indictment said.

Franks, whose parents helped establish the first Jewish congregation and cemetery in McHenry County, said Ahmed sent the email to him through his law office’s website.

“He made disparaging comments about me being Jewish and the Jewish people probably no less than four times,” Franks said. “He chose the words so carefully and deliberately. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue.” Though Ahmed did not threaten the attorney with any harm, the “comments made were centuries-old tropes against the Jewish people,” Franks said.

Franks is not sure why Ahmed sent the email on which he used a false name, but said apparently Ahmed “didn’t like our interaction.”

At the time of the offense the McHenry County State’s Attorneys Office had filed a petition to revoke Ahmed’s probation on an earlier conviction of possession of a controlled substance, records show.

Due to confidentiality Franks declined to discuss the details of their meeting.

In court Tuesday, where Franks was present, Ahmed did not make a statement or apologize. “He didn’t seem to have any remorse,” Franks said.

Franks, whose father had family members who were killed in concentration camps during the Holocaust and who has cousins who have fought in the Israeli military, said he hopes Ahmed can learn from this. Nothing like this had ever happened to Franks before, he said.

“It was certainly disturbing and unsettling, [especially] given the more recent events in Israel since Oct. 7 … it became more disturbing,” he said of the day Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel.

“I don’t know if he’s learned anything from this,” the attorney said of Ahmed. “I don’t know anything about him. Hopefully he will grow and learn to be accepting of other people.”

Franks said that he is grateful to State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and Assistant State’s Attorney Maria Marek for prosecuting the case as a felony and seeing Ahmed received prison time.

Kenneally declined to share the specific statements in the email that Ahmed sent to Franks due to their “unacceptable antisemitic nature.”

Ahmed’s attorney Daniel Hofmann did not return a call for comment.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.