In free lunch fraud, civil forfeiture sought

No charges have been brought (sealed or unsealed) and no arrests have been made in the massive free lunch fraud that exploded into the local news last month. In previous posts, I embedded copies of the three search warrants whose unsealing made the story public. Based on the warrants, I infer the charges will come.

The search warrants also established the existence of assets — “real estate, cars, and other luxury items” — that can be seized and liquidated to mitigate the fraud. The government cannot let it ride. Indeed, the FBI seized certain of Feeding Our Future principal Aimee 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, but she denies wrongdoing and seems to say that she’s a victim of racism (all the other possible fraudsters appear to be Somali).

The government has in fact commenced a civil forfeiture action to take possession of 14 real properties around the Twin Cities area. The government filed the complaint on January 20. Courtesy of Tasha Zerna of the United States Attorney’s office, I have obtained a PDF of the complaint (embedded below).

Having reviewed the complaint, Joey Peters noted allegations involving Abdi Nur Salah, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s senior policy aide. When Peters called to ask about it on behalf of Sahan Journal — story here — he got results:

Sahan Journal called a spokesperson for Frey at 1 p.m. on Thursday to ask about the allegations against the mayor’s senior policy aide. At 5 p.m, the spokesperson emailed Sahan Journal with a statement: “Abdi Salah is no longer an employee of Mayor Frey’s office. His last date of employment was today.”

The Star Tribune obscures the obvious cause and effect in “Former aide to Minneapolis Mayor Frey named in forfeiture lawsuit over alleged fraud in meals program.” Salah told the Star Tribune he was moving on because he is taking paternity leave. Maybe he is, but readers who rely on the Star Tribune story aren’t given much of a chance to make up their own mind about what’s going down. Peter’s story fills out the picture.

The Center of the American Experiment’s Bill Glahn reviewed the story to date in his February 17 post “The alleged Feeding Our Future scandal, four weeks in.” More to come.

Civil Complaint by Scott Johnson on Scribd

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