Feeding Our Future litigation grinds on

Criminal trials have been postponed to 2024. Two unrelated civil lawsuits are now closed.

The Feeding Our Future scandal has spawned a cottage industry in courtroom activities, at the state and Federal level, involving both criminal and civil cases.

We are now up to 60 defendants in the criminal cases in Federal court, with 7 convictions, so far. The earliest trial dates for the main figures in the scandal, originally set for late summer, have been pushed back until January through March 2024, for different batches of defendants, according to filings made last month in Federal District Court. The wheels of justice grind slowly.

We’ve previously covered the many civil cases going on around the scandal. In addition to civil cases involving the defunct nonprofit Feeding Our Future, we’ve been tracking litigation involving unrelated free-food nonprofits, who were caught in the undertow of the larger scandal, but have never been accused of any wrongdoing.

We have two updates to report.

A separate lawsuit by the nonprofit Addis Foundation was dismissed last month by a state district court judge. Addis Foundation’s claims are also incorporated in a larger lawsuit by the nonprofit Partners in Nutrition, which is still active in the state Court of Appeals.

We earlier noted the courtroom loss of the unrelated nonprofit Youth Leadership Academy (d/b/a Gar Gaar Family Services) in state Appeals Court. Gar Gaar’s leadership had floated the idea of a separate appeal of a related decision made by the state Department of Education. However, that new case has not yet been filed.

Speaking of Gar Gaar, back in November, I had observed that the nonprofit’s COO, Priya Morioka, was no longer serving on Gov. Tim Walz’ Workforce Development Board. Morioka had served on the Board since her 2019 appointment. To find out what happened, I sent a data request to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The response to my October 18, 2022, request finally arrived on Monday, May 1, 2023. It turns out that her term on the Board was ended by no less than the Governor himself.

The timing of this terse email is interesting. She was released from the Board exactly 10 days after the first batch of indictments in the unrelated Feeding Our Future case were announced. Her term on the Board would have ended at end of the year, anyway.

No reason was given for the dismissal. Her replacement on the Board was announced in December.

Again, neither Gar Gaar nor Morioka have ever been accused of any wrongdoing.