Former Loretto Hospital executive charged with embezzling $500K during COVID crisis

CHICAGO – A former Loretto Hospital executive is accused of helping embezzle nearly $500,000 from the West Side safety-net hospital.

Heather Bergdahl, 37, is charged with embezzlement, according to a criminal complaint released Monday. The charges come amid an FBI investigation into Loretto after Block Club Chicago and the Better Government Association exposed questionable practices at the hospital — including diverting vaccine doses meant for the city's poorest to locations where Chicago Where the richest people lived and played.

Bergdahl was arrested Thursday night after federal authorities discovered she was boarding a plane ready to take off for Dubai. Agents rushed to intercept the flight and remove him, said a federal official who participated in the arrest.

The criminal complaint refers to a Person A with whom Bergdahl worked to embezzle and steal approximately $487,000 from the hospital. Individual A is not named, but details in the complaint make clear that the pseudonym refers to Anosh Ahmed – another former Loretto executive who faced investigation and resigned after the Block Club report.

Allegations were not seen against Ahmed till Monday afternoon. Prosecutors have filed a series of sealed cases that appear to be related to the investigation.

Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, said the investigation is continuing.

Loretto Hospital is a safety-net facility that receives significant public funding and serves low-income people.

“Unfortunately, the hospital was targeted and victimized by a crime,” according to a statement released Monday by Loretto. “For legal reasons, we are unable to discuss details at present, but we will continue to provide our full cooperation and support to the investigation.”

According to the complaint, Ahmed created business entities and Bergdahl issued him at least 11 checks from the hospital. But the entities “did not provide any goods or services.” [Loretto] This would justify such payments,” according to the complaint.

Heather Bergdahl. Credit: Linkedin

“Bergdahl released these funds [Ahmed]And [Ahmed] According to the criminal complaint, the duo took the money knowing that funds had been embezzled from the hospital.

According to the criminal complaint, Ahmed hired Bergdahl and it appears they knew each other before they lived in Houston.

According to the complaint, after Ahmed resigned in March 2021, Bergdahl remained at the hospital — and issued checks worth $486,540 from the hospital to companies where Ahmed was CEO.

According to the complaint, Ahmed would deposit money in the bank accounts of those companies, then transfer them to other accounts under his control. According to the criminal complaint, neither company provides services or goods to Loretto Hospital.

According to the complaint, the accounts listed an address in the 400 block of North Wabash Avenue. Ahmed owned a home in Trump Tower on the block. Around November 2021, the address of the accounts was changed to an address in Houston – where Ahmed owned a condo.

Left: Eric Trump stands with Dr. Anosh Ahmed, chief operating officer of Loretto Hospital on Chicago's West Side. Right: Trump Tower. Credit: Provided and Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

According to the complaint, the four checks – totaling $314,888.96 – were issued just four days after Ahmed opened the bank accounts.

According to the complaint, going against Loretto's normal practices, Bergdahl did not submit a bill, invoice or other evidence of the transaction for the check.

While Bergdahl was employed at Loretto Hospital, she received more than $419,000 from two of Ahmed's accounts, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, records show frequent phone calls involving Bergdahl and Ahmed, including when checks were issued from the hospital to entities controlled by Ahmed.

“I believe that, during those calls, Bergdahl and [Ahmed] Planned and coordinated Bergdahl's embezzlement [Loretto’s] Funds by way of checks payable to individual A entities, and [Ahmed’s] Opening bank accounts in the names of those entities to receive those funds,'' an FBI agent wrote in the complaint.

According to the complaint, some of the checks also included Ahmed's signature on the payee line, even though he was no longer working at Loretto Hospital.

According to the complaint, there are other indications that the businesses that received the money were not legitimate, such as they lacking websites, not having business registrations and not having regular banking transactions.

According to the complaint, Bergdahl left Loretto Hospital in March 2022, but continued working as a contractor until April, when the hospital “terminated its relationship” with him.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Bergdahl currently works as CFO at Enosh Inc. in Houston, Texas. She lives in Houston, where Ahmed also resides.

The U.S. Attorney's Office filed a complaint against Bergdahl, not an indictment — something that is typically done when prosecutors are about to arrest someone immediately. Prosecutors now have 30 days to go to a grand jury to get an indictment, although they can get an extension.

Court records show Bardahl was released on $486,000 bond obtained from his parents' home. As a condition of her release, Bergdahl was ordered to have no contact with Ahmed, according to federal court papers filed in Texas. Bergdahl's attorney, Jordan Melissa Matthews, did not immediately return a call for comment Monday afternoon.

Bergdahl's attorney, Jordan Melissa Matthews, did not immediately return a call for comment Monday afternoon.

Loretto Hospital has seen several changes and an FBI investigation since the Block Club's reporting.

Starting in March 2021, Block Club revealed that the hospital was providing vaccines to people ineligible for Chicago's Trump Tower, where Ahmed, then Loretto's chief financial officer, lived, and a luxury jewelry store and high-risk areas of the West Side. Was supplying. End Gold Coast Steakhouse where Ahmed used to spend time. Miller's suburban church also received vaccines.

The Block Club then partnered with the Better Government Association to reveal that Ahmed's friends won $4 million in contracts from the nonprofit hospital, while Loretto board members received hospital-funded Caribbean loans, among other benefits. Also took trips.

The investigation into Loretto Hospital led to an FBI and state investigation, led to Ahmed's resignation, ended Miller's leadership at the hospital, and prompted the city to assume responsibility for vaccine distribution to ensure doses got to West Siders who could Instead of the rich struggling to get a shot. And powerful.

This story was produced by The Watch

The Block Club investigation has changed laws, launched criminal federal investigations, and held powerful people accountable. Email tips to The Watch at [email protected] and subscribe or donate to support this work.

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