A Queens scandal that threatens to engulf Rep. Gregory Meeks has an unusual collateral victim — the US Cricket Team.
The captain of the up-and-coming squad, Steve Massiah, was arrested for participating in a $50 million mortgage-fraud scheme allegedly run by Edul Ahmad — a Meeks donor under federal indictment.
Ahmad — who gave Meeks $40,000 in 2007 — would recruit promising cricket players from his native Guyana, hook them up with local cricket clubs and employ them in his scheme as straw buyers, court records charge.
By day, they would “work” for Ahmad’s Century 21 realty office in Ozone Park. During off hours, they could be found on the pitches of Queens, where many Caribbean-born players compete in the 400-year-old British sport.
Some even participated in the annual Ed Ahmad Cricket Cup in Queens, one of the proving grounds for the national team.
Massiah, 32, an Ahmad employee, became captain of the US Cricket Team — and his Nov. 22 arrest has thrown the squad into turmoil.
“I’m concerned,” said one team official.
Massiah was busted along with two real-estate colleagues. His passport was confiscated, and he seems certain to miss an important March qualifying tournament in Dubai.
The batsman is said to be furious with Ahmad.
“He’s so mad he wants to kill Ed Ahmad,” said an insider in the Queens Guyanese community.
Massiah, who did not respond to requests for comment, has entered into plea negotiations with the US Attorney’s Office, court records show.
Also charged were Qayaam Farrouq, 42, who plays in a New York cricket league, and Mohamed Gurmohamed, 58. Both were real-estate salesmen in Ahmad’s office.
Ahmad was arrested in July, and he’s also discussing a plea deal with the feds. Authorities are interested in what he might tell about the $40,000 he gave Meeks in 2007, which the congressman didn’t disclose until the FBI questioned Ahmad about it. The House Ethics Committee is currently probing whether it was an illegal gift.
The three cricket-playing salesmen seemed integral to Ahmad’s alleged scheme.
They are accused of falsifying mortgage documents, increasing the value of the properties they were allegedly buying, and also making themselves seem more creditworthy, according to court documents.
In Massiah’s case, he applied for a $292,500 loan from Countrywide in 2007 to a buy a home in Jamaica, falsely saying he earned $6,650 a month as a manager at Ahmad’s catering company, court papers show.
He said he intended to live in the Jamaica home, when in reality he was buying the property with Ahmad. Ahmad paid him for participating in the scheme, government documents show.
Massiah didn’t make any mortgage payments, and the home was sold two months later, presumably with Ahmad pocketing the profits. City records show it was sold for $413,400.
Ahmad, both a broker and loan officer, is accused of participating in 163 suspect loans with Countrywide in 2006 and 2007 alone and has been eyed in a total of 361 shady property deals. He made a killing on sales commissions and excessive loan fees, the feds say.
Ahmad, 44, immigrated to the United States as a young man and opened several businesses, including his real-estate office and a mortgage company.
Among the cricket players he hired to sell real estate was Lennox Cush, a Guyana native and former member of the US team. Massiah and Cush have both played in Ahmad’s tournaments.
Ahmad became an important cricket supporter in the city, starting his tournament in 2003. The competition pitted teams representing Caribbean countries against one another and would draw some 1,000 fans to its final game.
“He was definitely seen as an icon of sorts — someone who was actually able to get things done,” said Lester Hooper, cricket director for the New York City region.
Ahmad became pals with politicians, including Meeks, state Sen. John Sampson and Bharrat Jagdeo, the former president of Guyana.
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