A suburban father and son accused in 2014 of scamming public school districts out of millions — only to post diamonds and rubies to get out of jail — pleaded guilty Tuesday to mail fraud.
Jowhar Soultanali, 61, of Morton Grove, and his son, Kabir Kassam, 37, of Wheeling, each face a maximum of 20 years in prison after admitting to U.S. District Judge James Zagel they broke the law. An attorney also entered guilty pleas for the pair’s Niles-based tutoring businesses, Brilliance Academy Inc. and Babbage Net School Inc.
Soultanali and Kassam offered plea declarations to the judge, still quibbling with some of the accusations against them. Those disagreements will likely be sorted out at their sentencing hearings, which have not been scheduled.
The feds accused Soultanali and Kassam in 2014 of bribing education officials across the nation with cash, Caribbean cruises and strip club visits. They also used their tutoring businesses to scam $33 million in tutoring money out of more than 200 public school districts, the feds say. They did so by submitting false attendance records to the schools, according to their indictment.
Their companies were paid at least $23 million by Chicago Public Schools, and the two, for a time, lived the high life, at least until they had to post their riches to maintain their freedom.
In May 2014, they agreed to hand over diamond and ruby rings and earrings — along with other property worth a total of $500,000 each — to the U.S. federal court to stay free on bond.
They also turned over deeds to five homes in Morton Grove, Wheeling and Skokie, life insurance policies and three of their five pricey automobiles.