10 more charged in Minnesota pandemic food fraud scheme
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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