5 of 7 Feeding Our Future defendants found guilty

Two others were acquitted of all charges in the verdicts read this afternoon in Federal court in downtown Minneapolis. The remaining five were convicted of most of the charges they faced. A sentencing date was not announced today.

The U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, Andrew Luger, issued a press release after the convictions were announced.

Your correspondent was at the courthouse today, watching the verdict from an adjacent overflow room. The gallery of the main courtroom was packed with media and family members of the defendants.

The five convicted were held over in Federal custody. The two found not guilty were scheduled to be released later in the afternoon.

The seven on trial were associated with a now-defunct Shakopee restaurant and grocery, Empire Cuisine and Market. Here’s a photo of the business from back in the day.

The business reopened under new management and new ownership, unrelated to the figures on trial. A recent photo shows the location is little changed, except for the new business names.

The ringleader of the group was Abdiaziz Farah, Defendant No. 15 (of 70 overall) in the sprawling free-food scandal. From my notes, the jury convicted Farah on 23 counts and acquitted him on one count. It was Farah’s house that was searched earlier this week in connection to the bribery of one of the case’s original jurors.

Farah’s business partner, and co-owner of Empire Cuisine–Mohamed Ismail, Defendant No. 16–was convicted on three counts and acquitted on one.

Mukhtar Shariff, No. 21, founder of the Afrique Hospitality Group, was found guilty in four of six charges.

Two siblings, the youngest defendants of this group, were found guilty. Abdimajid Nur (No. 18) was found guilty of ten counts and not guilty on three. His older sister, Hayat Nur (No. 22) was found guilty of three of five counts.

The two acquitted by the jury were the co-owners of a grocery supply company, Bushra Wholesalers. Said Farah (brother of Abdiaziz) and Abdiwahad Aftin, were both found not guilty on all counts.

Adding the five convictions from today to 18 previous guilty pleas brings the total number of people convicted in the case to 23. Another 44 defendants await trial.