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3 guilty pleas made in Feeding Our Future fraud case: "I want to tell the truth"

3 plead guilty in “Feeding our Future” fraud scheme
3 plead guilty in “Feeding our Future” fraud scheme 02:29

MINNEAPOLIS -- Three guilty pleas have been made in connection to a massive Feeding our Future fraud case in Minnesota.

In the first of three plea hearings in Minneapolis federal court Thursday, Bekam Merdassa admitted to taking $3 million in fraudulent reimbursements. Merdassa specifically was affiliated with "Youth Inventors Lab," which was a shell company set up with help from Feeding Our Future. He admitted to creating fake invoices for 1.3 million meals provided by SMS Catering.

A judge accepted the plea, but will sentence him later. The plea recommends around two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He'll also have to pay $343,086 in restitution. 

In the second hearing, Hanna Marekegn admitted to receiving $5 million through fake invoices for daily breakfast and lunch meals for 4,000 kids. She also paid $150,000 in kickbacks to employees of Feeding our Future, the plea agreement said. 

Merekegn's plea agreement recommends a prison sentence between 37 and 46 months, a fine ranging from $15,000 to $150,000, and over $5 million in restitution. 

Hadith Yusuf Ahmed entered a guilty plea in the third hearing. He admitted to taking kickbacks and bribes of up to $1 million as an employee of Feeding our Future. He also admitted to setting up a website that faked invoices for serving 2,000 meals a day to kids.  

On why he's pleading guilty, Ahmed said, "I want to tell the truth."

He said the actual number of daily meals served was "nowhere near 2,000."

Ahmed's plea agreement recommends 46 to 57 months in prison and over $1.3 million in restitution. He'll also have to forfeit nearly $340,000 in bank accounts. 

Forty-nine people in total have been charged. They are accused of stealing $250 million dollars that was meant to feed low-income kids during the pandemic.  

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