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Five people in Minnesota convicted of embezzling up to $250 million in funds intended to feed children during COVID-19

According to the Department of Justice, the trial lasted more than six weeks and included the testimonies of 30 witnesses.


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Although the Coronavirus pandemic occurred more than four years ago, it was the protagonist of a corruption case in Minnesota, in which five people were convicted of embezzling funds that should have been used to feed children during COVID-19.

Through a statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff and Hayat Mohamed Nur were guilty of committing the crimes.

According to the indictment, they defrauded the Federal Child Nutrition Program, embezzling and laundering millions of dollars in funds that were intended for reimbursements for bringing meals to children during the pandemic. As The Hill reported, "they provided false documents and exploited changes in the food program." The case had two people acquitted, Said Shafii Farah and Abdiwahab Maalim.

"The convicted defendants also created and submitted false documentation. They submitted fraudulent meal count sheets purporting to document the number of children and meals served at each site and false invoices purporting to document the purchase of food to be served to children at each site. The convicted defendants also submitted false attendance lists that purported to include the names and ages of children receiving meals at the sites each day. These lists were fabricated and created using false names," the DOJ added.

The Federal Child Nutrition Program is administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is intended to provide food to children in need. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) administers and oversees the Federal Child Nutrition Program.

“Exploiting a program designed to feed underserved children during the COVID pandemic is reprehensible. Today's verdict is a clear warning to those who exploit the most vulnerable for personal gain. Justice will be swift and severe. The FBI, alongside our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney's Office, stand united in condemning such acts and ensuring that those who prey on others face the consequences they deserve,” said Special Agent Alvin M. Winston of the Minneapolis FBI.