Defendants allegedly made up children’s names and ages at random to say they supplied meals to people in need.
The Justice Department has filed criminal charges against 47 people for allegedly defrauding the government of $250 million meant to feed underprivileged children in Minnesota during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The indictments, according to the DOJ, involve “the largest pandemic relief fraud operation charged to date.”
Six groups were indicted on Tuesday, all of which were linked to the Minnesota NGO Feeding Our Future. The defendants face federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and paying and receiving illicit kickbacks.
Children went hungry while these groups stole million$ intended to feed them. https://t.co/QhvIDZIvQw
— Anya Kamenetz (@anya1anya) September 20, 2022
“Over a short period of time, these 47 defendants engaged in a brazen conspiracy of breathtaking proportions,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger at a news conference.
According to the DOJ, defendant Aimee Bock of Apple Valley, Minnesota, was the plot’s mastermind. Bock is the creator and executive director of Feeding Our Future, which prior to the pandemic offered government-sponsored meals to underprivileged children in the Twin Cities. According to the DOJ, Bock recruited others to set up bogus websites and fraudulently pretend to be feeding needy children on behalf of her organization.
According to records, Feeding Our Future increased its federal funding from $3.4 million in 2019 to nearly $200 million in 2021.
According to the DOJ, the defendants utilized the proceeds of their fraudulent scheme to buy luxury vehicles, support overseas travel, and purchase residential and commercial real estate in Minnesota, Ohio, and Kentucky, as well as Kenya and Turkey.