Feeding Our Future: a story from the inside

A former supervisor at the nonprofit Feeding Our Future was the star witness this week at the Federal trial of the first batch of defendants. The seven currently on trial were associated with a now-closed Shakopee restaurant, Empire Cuisine and Market.

Prosecutors put Hadith Yusuf Ahmed on the stand. He’s Defendant No. 46 (of 70) in the sprawling free-food scandal and is also Guilty Plea No. 2 in the case.

Ahmed tells the story of how he helped form a fake charity to scam the taxpayer-funded program and was later recruited to work for the nonprofit at the center of the scandal.

You can read news accounts of his remarkable testimony at KARE-11, MPR News, MN Reformer, Sahan Journal, Star Tribune, and other outlets. Ahmed explains the day-to-day nuts-and-bolts of how the fraud was carried out.

News account describe Hadith Ahmed’s testimony as “damning” and “explosive.”

For his part, Ahmed admits to receiving $1 million from the free-food program for his fake nonprofit and another $1 million in kickbacks in his role as a Feeding Our Future employee. He used the money to buy a house in Savage and property in Kenya.

His testimony implicates two other Feeding Our Future employees not on trial: founder and CEO Aimee Bock (Defendant No. 1) and Abdikerm Eidleh (No. 2). Eidleh has reportedly fled back to Somalia.

As for the kickbacks he received, the Sahan Journal reports Hadith Ahmed as testifying,

He testified to receiving kickbacks from Dar Al Farooq, a mosque in Bloomington, among other organizations. A prosecutor presented emails in court showing that Hadith helped Mukhtar Shariff, a defendant in the trial, change the mosque’s sponsor from Partners in Quality Care to Feeding Our Future. The change came after Bock met with Abdiaziz Farah, a defendant in the trial, Hadith testified. 

Sahan Journal also reports,

Prosecutors presented a $10,000 check in court that was written from Empire to Hadith for “consulting.” Hadith testified that it was a kickback to ensure that the Dar Al Farooq site would receive preferential treatment at Feeding Our Future.

Ahmed testifies that he was eventually fired from Feeding over a dispute involving another defendant not on trial, Ayan Abukar (No. 58). You will recall that a parcel of land purchased by Abukar’s family in Lakeville (allegedly bought with ill-gotten gains) is linked to a controversial housing project in that south metro suburb.

Here’s a picture of Abukar receiving an award from Gov. Tim Walz during the time of her alleged fraud,

Ahmed was back on the stand Thursday morning for more cross-examination. The Star Tribune covers some of the defense questioning in this report.