Feds Launch Investigation After Update In Minnesota Case

We’ve got a headline-making scandal that’s sure to grab your attention. Federal prosecutors have charged 47 Somali Muslim immigrants for skimming a whopping $250 million from a coronavirus relief program intended to feed needy children in Minnesota. This has been dubbed the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme to date by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s office.

“Today’s indictments describe an egregious plot to steal public funds meant to care for children in need,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a Department of Justice press release.

The defendants allegedly set up an umbrella organization called “Feeding Our Future” and created numerous sub-groups advertised as feeding underserved children during the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of helping the kids, they funneled the money for personal gain.

One feeding center went as far as copying names from listofrandomnames.com to fake their outreach numbers, showing just how brazen this scheme was. At trial, the director of Dar Al-Farooq mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, claimed they fed thousands of children daily. However, witnesses testified that food distribution was seen only on Saturdays.

The defense even brought in Paul Martin Vaaler, a University of Minnesota professor, to liken the Somali immigrant community to early Norwegian immigrants in Minnesota, emphasizing their insular nature and tendency to send money back home. He also testified that it’s common for Somali Muslims to deal strictly in cash due to religious beliefs, though he admitted that some financial practices didn’t seem legitimate.

The trial has been anything but straightforward. Two jurors were dismissed following an unprecedented bribe attempt, with one receiving a bag containing $120,000 in cash at her home. This led to the sequestration of the remaining jurors to prevent further tampering. FBI agents even searched the home of Abdiaziz Farah, one of the defendants, amid these bribery allegations.

“I’ve never heard of an instance of an attempted bribe of a juror in Minnesota,” former Hennepin County Chief Judge Kevin Burke told FOX 9.

“This situation never arose in any of my jury trials, nor did I hear of anything similar from my colleagues,” added Judge Jeremy Fogel, former director of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington D.C.

As this dramatic trial unfolds, with over 70 people charged and $250 million allegedly stolen, the court battles and investigations continue to captivate the public’s attention. Stay tuned for more updates on this unfolding saga.