FBI Storms Home in Feeding Our Future Fraud Case Amidst Bribery Probe

Neighbours reported glimpsing FBI agents, some hefting assault rifles, popping in and out of the Savage residence toting bags. This bust occurred mere hours after the jury commenced deliberations and was tied to Farah. Branded the “ringleader” of the swindle, Farah, co-owner of Empire Cuisine in Shakopee, is accused of skimming $8 million from the $250 million allegedly filched from the federal meal program.

Federal prosecutor Joe Thompson depicted Farah as masterminding an elaborate fraud rigmarole, involving money laundering, wire fraud, and a conspiracy. The man also purportedly fibbed on a passport doc after the FBI nabbed his passport, with intentions of jetting to Nairobi to build a 12-story high-rise using the pilfered funds.

Comparisons have been drawn between the Feeding Our Future case and the infamous 1964 jury tampering trial of Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa, erstwhile Teamsters president, faced conviction for trying to bribe a grand jury. Retired Hennepin County Judge Kevin Burke called the current case “perplexing,” and commented on the rarity and intricate nature of jury tampering. Burke empathized with Judge Brasel, recognizing the tough terrain of such sui generis court cases.

Seven defendants stand trial, Farah among them. Others include Mohamed Jama Ismail, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shafii Farah, Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin, Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff, and Hayat Mohamed Nur. Collectively, they’re accused of pilfering over $40 million from a program meant to feed kids during the COVID-19 scourge. Prosecutors say the racket involved bogus meal invoices, shell companies, and neat money-laundering shenanigans.

Ass. U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson denounced the bribery shenanigan, calling it “completely outrageous. This is external to decency. This is movie mob stuff.” Defense mouthpiece Andrew Birrell found the charges “disturbing and devestateing.”

These seven are the pioneer batch to face trial out of 70 accused in the scam. Eighteen already caved and copped pleas. The rest await their fate, including Aimee Bock, Feeding Our Future’s founder, who insists she’s on the up-and-up.

This Feeding Our Future mess trails a broader wave of pandemic-era scams. Last year, an Associated Press disquisition found that swindlers might have pocketed over $280 billion of federal COVID-19 relief dosh, with another $123 billion frittered away or wasted. That’s a sizeable chunk — about 10% of the $4.3 trillion the government doled out. About 3,200 suspects have been nabbed till now, with around $1.4 billion of fleeced aid reclaimed.

Federal gumshoes continue sleuthing the juror bribe, with FBI mouthpiece Diana Freedman intimating that no further deets are available. Those fingered in the bribery gig might face federal rap for bribing a juror and meddling with one, penalties soaring to 15 years behind bars.

While the jury mulls it over, this courtroom melodrama unfolds against the grand canvas of one of the heftiest COVID-19-linked scams nationwide. The verdict could set momentous legal footprints while spotlighting the gaps in federal aid systems during crises. 

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