- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Saamir Kaiser, former general counsel for the District's chief financial officer, was sentenced to 54 months in prison yesterday for lying on his job application and for stealing nearly a quarter of a million dollars from the city.
Prosecutors had asked for a three-year prison sentence, but U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle sentenced Kaiser to two years, the maximum for his conviction of fraud in the first degree, and 30 months for the theft charges. He faced up to eight years in prison on the theft charge.
Kaiser was also ordered to pay $514,149.97 in restitution.
Kaiser, 37, pleaded guilty to fraud July 9 for lying on his city employment application about having a law degree and being licensed to practice law in Maryland and New York. He also admitted embezzling $248,105 in city funds for his own use.
His guilty plea was part of an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office that it would not seek a sentence greater than 12 months in prison on the mail-fraud charge or 18 months in prison on the fraud charge. The agreement also required him to repay the stolen money to the District.
As part of his plea agreement and statement of facts in the case, Kaiser admitted that he lied to the city and the D.C. financial control board about his education.
"The defendant's brazen criminal conduct cheated the citizens of the District of Columbia and undermined their confidence in local government," U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Marshall said in the sentencing memorandum.
"His motivation was purely selfish and driven by greed."
Kaiser is the sixth high-ranking D.C. official in two years to admit inflating his credentials before being hired. Former Parks and Recreation Department Director Robert Newman, and Chief Ronnie Few and three of his top aides in the D.C. Fire and Emergency Services Department had inaccuracies in their resumes.
A joint investigation by the D.C. Inspector General's Office and the FBI found that Kaiser was hired as a paralegal researcher for the now-dissolved D.C. financial control board and was promoted to a staff attorney position with the board in October 1998.
He was promoted after telling the control board that he had a law degree and had passed the New York State bar examination.
The control board promoted him again in April 2000 to the position of counsel.
Kaiser then submitted an application to the D.C. government in January 2001 for the position of deputy general counsel for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. Six months later in July 2001 he was promoted to general counsel for the chief financial officer and received an annual salary of $121,285.
As general counsel he was also assistant treasurer for the D.C. Tobacco Settlement Financing Corp., which administers the District's share of the national tobacco settlement.
Kaiser was authorized to sign the corporation's checks, and from June 2001 to January wrote 18 checks totaling $248,105, which were made payable to him or went toward his personal expenses. Among his expenses were the down payment on a new Mercedes-Benz and $8,005 to pay for a honeymoon.


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