Two Columbus-area males amongst 47 charged in theft of $250 million in COVID assist

Two Columbus-area males are amongst 47 defendants charged in Minnesota in what federal prosecutors say was a “brazen scheme” to steal $250 million in federal COVID reduction funds by billing the federal authorities for bogus free meals for needy youngsters that did not exist.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland known as what occurred to the nonprofit Feeding Our Future program in Minnesota “the largest pandemic fraud scheme charged to date.” Instead of offering free meals to underserved youngsters at non-educational websites run by nonprofit teams or for-profit eating places within the Minneapolis-St. Paul and past, federal authorities say the defendants took benefit of relaxed federal necessities meant to assist youngsters in the course of the pandemic by falsifying paperwork to receive federal funds.

Prosecutors say the defendants used the federal cash for their very own profit — together with the acquisition of luxurious vehicles, worldwide journey, residential and business properties in Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky; beachfront property in Kenya, and property on the Mediterranean coast in Turkey.

Who are the 2 Delaware County males going through federal expenses?

Abdirahman “Abcos” Ahmed, 54, who owns a house in Orange Township in Delaware County, is charged with conspiracy to commit cash laundering and cash laundering. The restaurateur owned the now-shuttered Safari Restaurant & Banquet Center in Minneapolis, a fashionable Somali and African restaurant accused in court docket paperwork of being paid greater than $16 million in federal funds after reporting it served hundreds of pandemic meals to youngsters daily.

Ahmed moved to the Columbus space round 2018. During the 2020 pandemic, he and his spouse opened Afra Grill restaurant on Morse Road in town’s Northland space. A second location has opened in Easton Town Center and a 3rd is deliberate in New Albany. Court information present he purchased his Delaware County house for greater than $290,000, purchased a 2021 Lexus for greater than $42,000 and helped purchase a $2.4 million business constructing on Stelzer Road on town’s northeast facet.

Mahad Ibrahim, 46, who additionally owns a house in Orange Township, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit cash laundering and cash laundering. Court paperwork and IRS information present that Ibrahim was the president of the ThinkTechAct Foundation, a Minnesota nonprofit, and the proprietor of the for-profit Mind Foundry Learning Foundation, each of which operated out of the identical workplace in a co-op workspace at Southdale Mall in Edina , Minnesota.

Mind Foundry and ThinkTechAct, which IRS information point out misplaced its nonprofit standing in 2020, hosted about two dozen meal areas, information present. Ibrahim is accused of illegally receiving greater than $20 million in federal funds, a lot of which was handed on to the house owners of Empire Cuisine & Market in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Attempts by The Dispatch to succeed in Ahmed by way of his two eating places had been unsuccessful. A person who answered a cellphone quantity for Ahmed and recognized himself as a good friend initially mentioned he didn’t know concerning the allegations, then mentioned the allegations had been “false allegations” and that Ahmed had mentioned “they were corrected against society” earlier than hanging up.

Ibrahim declined to remark when reached by The Dispatch.

Program served pretend meals to pretend youngsters, federal prosecutors say

Aimee Bock, founder and govt director of the Feeding Our Future program, was charged by federal prosecutors with overseeing the alleged huge fraud.

Court information say Feeding Our Future workers recruited people and entities to open greater than 250 federal baby diet program websites all through Minnesota. Employees of the nonprofit group allegedly accepted bribes and kickbacks to grant sure people and entities entry to this system. Feeding Our Future is accused of fraudulently acquiring and disbursing greater than $240 million in federal funds.

Prosecutors say the web sites operated by the defendants fraudulently claimed to serve meals to hundreds of kids a day inside days or even weeks of their creation.

The defendants are additionally accused of submitting false attendance lists purporting to record the names and ages of the youngsters who obtain meals on the websites every day and fraudulent invoices, in accordance with prosecutors. The lists had been manufactured and created utilizing pretend names, together with one which used names from an internet site known as www.listofrandomnames.com.

Other defendants used an Excel formulation to insert a random age between seven and 17 years into the age column of the pretend lists submitted for reimbursement.

@Colebehr_report

[email protected]

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More