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Five out of seven defendants in Feeding our Future fraud case found guilty of multiple counts

5 of 7 defendants found guilty on multiple counts in Feeding our Future case
5 of 7 defendants found guilty on multiple counts in Feeding our Future case 02:42

MINNEAPOLIS — Five out of seven defendants who were accused of swindling more than $40 million in the Feeding our Future COVID relief fraud case have been found guilty on multiple counts. 

The jury deliberated for four days before reaching a verdict around 12:30 p.m. Friday.

The trial itself was made more complicated when a juror reported that she'd received a $120,000 bribe with the promise of more if she voted to acquit the seven accused in the case. She was dismissed on Monday along with another juror who reported she heard about the attempted bribe. Federal authorities confiscated the defendants' cellphones and the judge sequestered the jury.

Charges ranged from wire fraud, money laundering, and federal programs bribery. Two of the defendants — Said Shafii Farah and Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin — were found not guilty of the nine and three charges they faced, respectively. 

One defendant, Abdiaziz Farahwas found guilty on 23 separate counts, but was also found not guilty on one of the wire fraud counts he faced. Mohamed Jama Ismail was found guilty on three of the four counts, while Abdimajid Mohamed Nur was found guilty of 10 out of the 13 he faced. Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff and Hayat Nor were found guilty of four of the six counts they each faced.

"The verdict confirms what we've known all along, which is that defendants falsified documents, the lied, and they fraudulently claimed to be feeding millions to children during COVID," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Thompson.

Cedric Hohnstadt

The seven Minnesotans are the first of 70 defendants to stand trial in what federal authorities have called "the largest pandemic fraud in the United States." In all, the scheme diverted $250 million in federal funds during a time when the rules were relaxed in order to keep the U.S. economy running. 

The founder of the nonprofit, Aimee Bock, has maintained her innocence. Eighteen others have pleaded guilty. Prosecutors accused the defendants of spending money on luxury cars, jewelry, travel and property. Just a fraction went to feed low-income children. 

FBI agents searched one of the defendants' homes in Savage on Wednesday. According to the Associated Press, the home belonged to Farah, who prosecutors have described as the ringleader of the seven.

Charges related to bribing or influencing a juror carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The FBI said the investigation is ongoing.

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