It’s been a quiet summer so far for the Feeding Our Future scandal, but rest assured, a lot is going on in the behind the scenes.
MN Reformer is continuing their good work in tracking down the other businesses owned by Feeding Our Future figures. The Reformer calculates that nearly half of the 60 individuals indicted in the scandal (so far) owned other businesses (childcare, adult daycare, personal care) receiving state money.
These individuals are accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the free-food programs. The Reformer calculates that these other businesses have taken in tens of millions of dollars from other state programs.
But within the piece posted yesterday, The Reformer breaks news, quoting one defense attorney as saying,
[H]e advised his client not to speak publicly because federal prosecutors have told him about 200 more people could be charged.
Big, if true.
Today, MN Reformer’s chief editor, J. Patrick Coolican, weighs in with an opinion piece headlined,
Why the DFL should care the most about fraud in government programs:
The party of government must take fraud against the government seriously.
The new Republican majority in the U.S. Congress is asking similar questions. Republican Congressman Tom Emmer and the other MN GOP members recently wrote to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) demanding answers on the Feeding Our Future scandal. Rep. Emmer writes,
It is unclear how the USDA and its partnering state agency, the Minnesota Department of Education, failed to discern this fraud – described as the ‘largest pandemic fraud in the United States’ – earlier in the grant cycle. Millions of taxpayer funds were stolen at the expense of hungry children in the state.
Meanwhile, back in federal court, the wheels of justice grind on. Late last month, the U.S. Attorney filed a five-page bill of particulars against the eight defendants within the Empire Cuisine network. The bill lists all the property subject to forfeiture in this corner of the case.
The bill (p. 2) includes eight properties, in Minnesota, Kentucky, and Ohio. It includes more than $10 million seized from various bank accounts and seven vehicles, including a Porsche and a Tesla.
More interesting is the long list of fake luxury goods included (pp. 4-5). Six fake Rolexes, plus other fake watches, bags, and clothing items are included. I sure hope they didn’t pay full price.
In a filing made yesterday in federal court, it appears that Defendant No. 55, Abdikadir Kadiye, will be pleading guilty in the case. Kadiye was indicted in an expansion of the original Haji’s Kitchen group. You will remember Kadiye as the defendant accused of buying a laundromat.
Through his Hobyo Health Care Foundation, Kadiye operated three food distribution sites within the Partners in Nutrition network. The money he claimed through the program exceeded $1.1 million.
One of his food suppliers is the defendant who filed guilty plea No. 10 in the case.
His Minneapolis location appears to have been registered at a condominium he owned, with a listed capacity of 2,600 children per day.
The address for his Eden Prairie site appears to map to an apartment complex.
A hearing has been set for the end of the month. If a guilty plea is entered by Kadiye, it would represent the 11th conviction in the case.
On a sadder note, according to a filing made last month, it appears that Defendant No. 42 in the case, Fartun Jama of Rosemount, has passed away.
Another unrelated free-food nonprofit, Partners in Nutrition, had its day in front of the MN Court of Appeals last month. Partners is suing the MN Dept. of Education for reinstatement to the program and for payment of $millions in denied reimbursement claims filed in late 2021 and early 2022. In my layman’s reading of the back and forth during the oral hearing, the judges seemed skeptical of the state’s rationale for shutting down the nonprofit. A decision is forthcoming in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, we’re just waiting for more shoes to drop.