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Feds raid offices of CEO of Universal Companies

A company spokesman says Universal itself is not a target.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Federal agents raided the offices of Universal CEO Rahim Islam on Friday while executing a search warrant at his home and his office at Universal Companies’ corporate headquarters.

Universal, the charter school and affordable housing community organization founded by Kenny Gamble, called an emergency meeting of the company’s board, which voted unanimously to place Islam on administrative leave.

Universal operates eight charter schools in Philadelphia, serving 4,300 students. The School District’s charter school office recommended in 2016 that two of Universal’s charters not be renewed – Audenried High School and Vare Middle School. However, the School Reform Commission has yet to take a vote on the issue and these schools remain open.

The investigation of Islam “definitely has nothing to do with Universal,” Devon Allen, a spokesman for Universal, told philly.com. “It’s a personal legal matter.”

Universal released the following statement:

On November 24, 2017, a federal search warrant was executed at the personal residence and offices of Rahim Islam, President and CEO of Universal Community Homes (“Universal”) and at Universal’s corporate headquarters.

An emergency meeting of Universal’s Board of Directors was conducted that evening in order to take immediate action. The Board voted unanimously, having received Mr. Islam’s agreement, to place him on administrative leave. The purpose of the Board’s decision was to allow Mr. Islam time to focus on his legal affairs. The Board of Directors had also been advised that Mr. Islam received a target letter from the federal government making him the focus of an investigation.