Father, son post bond with stash of rubies, diamonds
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter May 7, 2014 1:22PM
Jowhar Soultanali leaves the Dirkson Federal Building last week. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2014 6:24AM
A father and son accused of a bigtime education scam agreed to pay a pirate’s ransom Wednesday — posting a stash of diamonds and rubies to stay free.
Millionaires Jowhar Soultanali, 58, of Morton Grove, and his son Kabir Kassam, 34, of Wheeling, were charged last week with bribing public officials with cash, Caribbean cruises and strip club visits.
It was all part of a scheme to con taxpayers out of $33 million by scoring government contracts for their Niles-based businesses, Brilliance Academy Inc. and Babbage Net School Inc., the feds say.
And on Wednesday, Soultanali and Kassam showed off some of their wealth, agreeing to hand over diamond and ruby rings and earrings and other property worth a total of $500,000 each to the U.S. District Court so that they can stay free on bond while they fight the charges.
The men also agreed to turn over deeds to five homes in Morton Grove, Wheeling and Skokie, life insurance policies, and three of their five luxury vehicles, a small fleet that includes Lexuses, a BMW, an Infiniti and a Camaro muscle car.
Brilliance and Babbage allegedly made the loot ripping off school districts in 19 states by overcharging for after school education programs that weren’t provided and falsifying evidence of students’ progress.
The companies were paid at least $23 million by Chicago Public Schools since 2005, records show. It’s not clear how much of that money — if any — may have been fraud.
Prosecutors last week said Soultanali and Kassam recently sent $5 million to Dubai, though the men insist there was nothing illegal about that.
Judge James Zagel on Wednesday ordered Brilliance and Babbage to file monthly financial reports with the court, to prevent any profits from being embezzled while the case plays out.