Indictments reveal that the scandal goes beyond Feeding Our Future

Other nonprofit, free-food networks are implicated in the set of indictments announced by the U.S. Attorney Andy Luger last week.

In his press conference on Tuesday, Luger described the dollar amounts involved with these words,

This $250 million is the floor.

He also added that, “Our investigation continues.” What’s next for Luger after charging the first 48 people in the scandal? Clues may lie in the ten indictments filed last week.

Three large free-food networks were suspended by the state Department of Education (MDE), who oversees the Federal free-food programs in Minnesota. Here’s how much the three nonprofits took in over the years from the programs,

Feeding Our Future voted to dissolve the company earlier this year. The other two networks, Partners in Nutrition (d/b/a Partners in Quality Care) and Gar Gaar Family Services (d/b/a Youth Leadership Academy) are currently suing MDE for reinstatement to the program.

Two of the indictments filed last week (against Empire Cuisine and Haji’s Kitchen) mention a nonprofit identified as “Sponsor A” and the activities of a board member identified with the initials “J.S.”

In their recently-filed Federal lawsuit against MDE, Partners in Nutrition identifies themselves as “Sponsor A” and the board member as Julius Scarver, a former Partners employee (lawsuit, p. 20 paragraph 65 through p. 21 paragraph 70).

In the Empire Cuisine indictment, the Department of Justice (page 9 paragraph 29) describes how Scarver diverted $2.5 million from Partners to several of the defendants, while keeping a portion of the proceeds for himself. Scarver has not been charged in the case.

Among the figures charged in the Haji indictment is one Fahad Nur, the owner of The Produce LLC. The Department of Justice alleges that Nur’s company took nearly $10 million from the free food program, and that Nur himself has fled the country (p. 7 paragraph 20).

The company, The Produce LLC, pops up in litigation around the third network, Gar Gaar Family Services (GGFS). In a letter sent from MDE to Gar Gaar’s COO, Priya Morioka, the Department alleges (page 4) that,

GGFS paid $939,960.00 on 9/10/2021 to vendor “The Produce” for prior service. This vendor was not licensed to distribute food by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture until 9/22/2021.

Gar Gaar itself has not been named in any indictments or search warrants. The company is suing MDE in state court for reinstatement to the free-food program.

Ms. Morioka is a member of Gov. Tim Walz’ Workforce Development Board. Gar Gaar’s CEO, Khadija Ali is an award-winning business owner.

In 2022, Morioka donated $500 to Walz’ re-election campaign.

In 2021, Ali made political donations to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar ($2,800) and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison ($2,500).