DOJ: 47 in Minnesota’s Somali Community Charged with Stealing $250M in COVID-19 Funds from Child Nutrition Program
John Binder, Breitbart, September 23, 2022
Forty-seven individuals, primarily in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s large Somali community, have been charged for their roles in allegedly stealing $250 million in COVID-19 federal funds meant for a child nutrition program.
According to federal prosecutors, the 47 individuals charged across six indictments and three criminal informations committed conspiracy, wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering when they defrauded millions from the Federal Child Nutrition Program during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, the 47 individuals allegedly used COVID-19 changes to the Federal Child Nutrition Program to oversee the massive fraud scheme via the Minneapolis-based Feeding Our Future and the for-profit restaurants as well as the food distribution services sponsored by the nonprofit.
In 2019, Feeding Our Future received and disbursed about $3.4 million in federal funds to feed underprivileged children in the Minneapolis area. By 2021, the nonprofit had received almost $200 million in federal funds.
The scheme included Feeding Our Future allegedly claiming to open more than 250 Federal Child Nutrition Program sites across the state of Minnesota. Most of the 47 individuals claimed to operate these sites by filing fraudulent documents purporting to be feeding children, prosecutors allege.
Feeding Our Future executives, prosecutors claim, knew all along that the fraud was taking place but continued to submit fraudulent documents to secure Federal Child Nutrition Program funds for the sites claiming to be feeding children.
In the process, Feeding Our Future was paid more than $18 million in administrative fees and employees of the nonprofit allegedly accepted bribes and kickbacks. When Minnesota regulators sought to provide oversight to the operation, a Feeding Our Future executive claimed the state was discriminating against the nonprofit.
Most of the individuals charged in the fraud scheme, prosecutors say, used the stolen funds to buy luxury vehicles, residential and commercial real estate, real estate in Kenya and Turkey, and to fund their international travel.
KARE 11 News reporter Lou Raguse reports that only seven of the 47 individuals were taken into Minnesota law enforcement custody, including two who were previously charged with passport fraud. Some of those have since been released from jail pending trial.
Another individual is in custody after she booked a one-way flight to Ethiopia. Three of the charged individuals have already left the United States.