Nonprofit Founder, 46 Others Charged in $250M Scheme

It's the biggest pandemic-related fraud case to date
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2022 3:29 PM CDT
Nonprofit Founder, 46 Others Charged in $250M Scheme
Aimee Bock, the executive director of the nonprofit Feeding Our Future, pictured in January, 2022. Federal authorities charged 47 people with conspiracy and other counts on Tuesday relating to a massive scheme to steal $250 million from a federal program that provides meals to low-income children.   (Shari L. Gross/Star Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – Federal prosecutors indicted 47 individuals in Minnesota on Tuesday in a sprawling $250 million scheme described as the largest pandemic-related fraud case to date. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Minnesota-based nonprofit Feeding Our Future "was at the center of each indictment," which included charges of wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and bribery. Prosecutors say the organization and its web of partners and shell companies were reimbursed by the USDA’s child nutrition programs for about 125 million meals that were never actually served. Instead, the defendants allegedly enriched themselves.

"This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions," US Attorney Andrew Lugar said in a press conference, per KSTP, adding that instead of feeding children, "they prioritized their own greed, stealing … federal funds to purchase luxury cars, houses, jewelry, and coastal resort property abroad." Among those indicted by a federal grand jury was Aimee Bock, executive director of Feeding Our Future. Per the New York Times, Bock served as the conspiracy’s "trusted insider" because the state of Minnesota recognized her organization as a "watchdog sponsor," a trusted conduit for funding between government programs and feeding sites, such as the one supposedly run by codefendant Guhaad Hashi Said, who claimed to serve 5,000 meals per day out of a second-story apartment.

According to the indictment, conspirators generated fake lists of meal recipients using the website www.listofrandomnames.com; they then inserted random ages between 7 and 17 beside each name. The Star Tribune says officials with the Minnesota Dept. of Education raised concerns back in 2020 about the sudden "boom" in sites sponsored by the organization and halted payments. Unbowed, Bock sued the state, accusing it of discriminating against her organization because it worked with minorities. Minnesota turned to the FBI, which raided Feeding Our Future offices in January. At the time, Bock remained defiant, telling the Sahan Journal that "Feeding Our Future does not commit fraud, does not allow fraud … and most certainly does not actively participate in fraud." (Read more fraud stories.)

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