Mar 13, 2023 - News

10 more charged in Minnesota pandemic food fraud scheme

Andrew Luger

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. Photo: Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors in Minnesota on Monday announced charges against 10 more people in connection with the Feeding Our Future fraud investigation.

The big picture: Sixty people have now been implicated in what prosecutors have called a "brazen" $250 million scheme to defraud a federal program meant to feed children in need during the pandemic.

  • It's believed to be the nation's biggest pandemic fraud case to date.

What's new: The 10 added defendants allegedly operated fraudulent food sites in Pelican Rapids, Faribault, Burnsville, Minnetonka, Bloomington, Minneapolis and St. Paul, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said during a news conference.

Zoom in: The charges announced Monday include an Eagan woman accused of claiming she was serving 2,560 meals a day to children in an Otter Tail County town of roughly 2,500.

  • Luger said the woman submitted phony invoices and reimbursement forms with made-up names and did not operate a physical site for distributing the meals.
  • The new defendants allegedly spent the funds on property, luxury cars, including Teslas, travel, and, in one case, an aircraft. Another allegedly purchased a laundromat, Luger said.

The intrigue: Luger said the $250 million total for the alleged fraud announced in September has grown and will likely continue to grow.

  • He did not provide an updated estimate on Monday, but said more than $66 million in cash and assets have been seized so far.

Of note: Three of the defendants announced Monday were charged in a way that indicates prosecutors expect them to plead guilty. Six charged last year have already entered guilty pleas.

  • The founder of Feeding Our Future, the nonprofit at the center of the allegations, has pleaded not guilty.

What's next: Luger said the investigation will continue and he expects more charges to be filed.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to show the founder of Feeding Our Future has pleaded not guilty.

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