Juror in MN pandemic fraud trial reports $120K bribery attempt

 June 6, 2024

Amid a Minnesota trial that already implicates potentially staggering amounts of fraud and criminality, allegations of brazen jury tampering have emerged.

As Fox 9 in Minneapolis reports, an individual sitting on a jury hearing evidence concerning claims of large-scale pandemic fraud reported being the subject of a $120,000 bribery attempt, triggering a raid on the home of one of the defendants in the case.

Bribery attempt reported

In the case at issue, involving alleged fraud in the amount of $40 million, two jurors have had to be replaced as a result of what appears to be an attempt to purchase an acquittal.

As NBC News reports, the first juror at issue claimed to have been offered a financial bribe just ahead of the start of deliberations

According to the juror, a woman appeared at her Spring Lake Park home while she was not there, bearing a gift bag containing a vast sum of cash and leaving the parcel with a relative who was at the residence at the time.

The individual who brought the money -- who referenced the juror by name -- told the relative who took the bag that there would be “more of that present tomorrow” if a not-guilty verdict was reached.

Subsequently, the juror for whom the cash was intended reported the incident to authorities, turned over the gift bag, and was subsequently taken off the case, as was another juror who was said to have learned about the attempted bribery from a family member, as ABC News noted.

Fraud case nears conclusion

The trial in which the affected jurors were serving related to a far-reaching COVID-19 relief scheme that ultimately ensnared roughly 70 individuals who are facing charges stemming from their involvement with the Feeding Our Future nonprofit.

The organization was a participant in the Federal Child Nutrition Program, but according to federal prosecutors, employees of the entity recruited others to launch Child Nutrition Program sites across the state of Minnesota for the stated purpose of providing no-cost meals to children and low-income residents.

Eyebrows were raised when the organization made the leap from disbursing just over $3 million in federal monies in 2019 to a totally of roughly $200 million in the span of two years.

Prosecutors allege that the defendants in the case exploited the program and used funds on lavish personal expenditures that included real estate, pricey vehicles, and more.

When the charges were initially announced, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger declared, “This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions. These defendants exploited a program designed to provide nutritious food to needy children during the pandemic. Instead, they prioritized their own greed.”

What comes next?

In the wake of the bribery allegation, the home of one of the case's defendants, Abdiaziz Farah, was raided by the FBI, and Judge Nancy Brasel ordered all seven individuals currently standing trial to turn over their cellphones and placed them into custody.

Thus far, none of the defendants have been charged in connection to the bribery allegations themselves, but in light of the FBI's raid of Farah's home, perhaps that is something that will change in the very near future.

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