In free lunch fraud, the case laid out

I embedded two of the three search warrants executed around the Twin Cities by the FBI on January 20 here (February 1) and here (February 2). The third is at the bottom of this post. If you have followed along so far, please don’t miss this one. It focuses on Aimee Bock, the mastermind of the scheme implicating Feeding Our Future, and lays out the case in vivid detail including photographs of houses bought with taxpayer funds procured from the government in the course of the fraud.

No charges have been brought (sealed or unsealed) and no arrests have been made. Based on the warrants, however, I infer the charges will come. The search warrants establish the existence of assets — “real estate, cars, and other luxury items,” as the search warrant affidavit below states in paragraph 7 — that can be seized and liquidated to mitigate the fraud. The government cannot let it ride. Indeed, the FBI seized certain of Bock’s assets in the course of its January 20 search of her residence. According to her attorney, Bock has been advised that she is a target of the investigation.

Apart from Bock, all of the named parties subject to searches appear to be Somali. Bock seeks to shield herself with some of that Ilhan Omar magic dust by proclaiming the investigation as “an attack on a community,” but Bock herself is as white as Ms. Snow White.

“I believe this is punishment for going against the grain. And I think this is punishment for holding a state agency accountable,” Bock told the Star Tribune. Not even the Star Tribune is buying it. “To leaders of other nonprofits, Feeding Our Future’s rapid growth is unfathomable and they worry the allegations will ramp up distrust in federal nutrition programs that were long underutilized because of heavy regulations,” the Star Tribune reports in the story on its interview with Bock.

• The FBI has gathered up additional evidence in the January 20 searches, but it had enough as of that date to make out probable cause and lay out the case with excruciating clarity in the search warrants.

• Some 200 agents executed the search warrants in homes and offices around the Twin Cities. I believe they flew in agents from elsewhere to assist in the January 20 searches. It was in any event a huge operation.

• The raids culminated an investigation that began in May 2021, following the Minnesota Department of Education’s unsuccessful effort to discontinue payments to Feeding Our Future. The FBI procured a previous search warrant on the Feeding Our Future email account.

• According to paragraph 7 of the search warrant affidavit, “almost none of the money” paid to Feeding Our Future and the nonprofits it sponsored went for the intended purpose of feeding needy children.

• The efforts of the Minnesota Department of Education to discontinue payments to Feeding Our Future reminds us that both state and federal taxpayers appear to have been defrauded in this case.

• The fraud alleged is not subtle. It is gross and it is massive.

• The (long) Star Tribune story on the interview with Bock notes: “How much of Feeding Our Future’s $244 million in federal aid from 2018 to 2021 went to organizations accused of misappropriating money is still unclear. The nonprofit worked with more than 100 partners in 2021, and only a fraction are listed in FBI documents.”

• However, as noted above, the FBI asserts in paragraph 7: “Almost none of this money [i.e., tens of millions of dollars paid to the nonprofits involved in the alleged scheme] was used to feed the children.”

• “I am the white lady,” Bock told the Star Tribune. “It’s no secret. I can open the door and I can hold it open and provide the security so that it is safe for them [people of color] to walk through. Because every time they’ve tried to come to the door, it’s gotten slammed in their face.”

• As I pointed out earlier this week in the “the friends of Ilhan Omar” post, one alleged participant in the fraud is Omar enforcer Guhaad Hashi Said. If the door was slammed in his face, it is a great credit to the government. However, I seriously doubt the veracity of this assertion. It is a pathetic attempt to play the race card, Omar style.

• Bock has an attorney. His name is Ken Udoibok. Either he has failed to instruct her to keep her mouth shut or she isn’t following his advice. Her efforts to play the race card may be inspired by Omar, and Omar has showed how to do it, but they are laughable when Bock does it.

• A closing footnote. The incoming — nominated but not yet confirmed — United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota is Andrew Luger. Luger was United States Attorney when the office charged and successfully prosecuted the “Minnesota men” (nine Somalis) who sought to leave Minnesota to join ISIS. Luger is also the guy who saved Omar’s career by providing her a letter denying she was under investigation in 2016, but Omar is no friend of his. Omar thinks the “Minnesota men” were treated unduly harshly. CAIR and its politically sympathetic activists in the Somali community opposed Luger’s possible nomination this past March, after he had been identified as on Biden’s shortlist for it. Will Luger push to prosecute the Somalis involved in the fraud alleged in the search warrant affidavits? I believe he will do the right thing, whatever it is, but his prospective return to office is a wild card.

UPDATE: FBI spokesman Michael Kulstad has confirmed for me that some of the more than 200 agents who executed the three warrants on January 20 “came in from other offices (many from the Minneapolis division, but who were stationed in other field offices outside of the Twin Cities.)”

22-mj-040 by Scott Johnson

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