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Gift Bags

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

It’s only the beginning of many for Minnesota. The trial of the first seven defendants, in what federal prosecutors call the largest pandemic-era fraud case in the country, is underway. Seventy people in total have been charged in this case, accused of stealing $250 million in federal aid meant to help feed needy children. Turns out just a fraction of the money the defendants billed through the Feeding Our Future nonprofit went to feed low-income kids, while the rest was spent on luxury cars, jewelry, travel and property. Only about $50 million of the stolen proceeds have been recovered so far so looks like kids are going to remain hungry for a while.

And the first trial in this massive scheme starts with a twist. According to an FBI agent’s affidavit, a woman rang the doorbell at the home of “Juror #52” in the Minneapolis suburb of Spring Lake Park the night before the case went to the jury. A relative answered the door and was handed a gift bag with a curly ribbon and images of flowers and butterflies. Filled with $100, $50, and $20 bills totaling around $120,000. The woman said it was a “present” for the juror.” With more to follow if Juror #52 gave a not guilty verdict.

The defense for this trial argued that the seven didn’t knowingly defraud the government. Bribe or no bribe, the jury didn’t buy it. On June 7, 2024, Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff and Hayat Mohamed Nur were found guilty of their roles in the $250 million Feeding Our Future Fraud scheme.

Shout out to hero in this case, Juror #52 who called the police instead of keeping the “present.”

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Bag of cash doesn’t stop jurors from convicting 5 of 7 defendants in $40 million food fraud scheme” published by WJTV News on June 7, 2024.

A jury convicted five Minnesota residents and acquitted two others on Friday for their roles in a scheme to steal more than $40 million from a program that was supposed to feed children during the coronavirus pandemic. The case received widespread attention after someone tried to bribe a juror with a bag of $120,000 in cash.

That juror was dismissed before deliberations began, and a second juror who was told about it also was dismissed. An FBI investigation of the attempted bribe continues, with no arrests announced.

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