In free lunch fraud, the Times takes note

Guhaad Hashi Said’s image instructing Somalis to keep quiet — I lifted it from his Facebook page — is the avatar I have used for this series. Long-time Power Line readers may recall that Hashi is Ilhan Omar’s enforcer. That’s how I first heard about him in the course of my initial reporting on Omar’s marriage to her brother over five years ago.

Preya Samsundar reported on Hashi in the 2016 Alpha News story “A community forced into silence.” In 2019 I wrote about David Steinberg’s PJ Media column “Ilhan Omar’s Husband No Longer Works for Minneapolis Councilwoman. Sources Say Omar Asked for Him to Be Fired.” PJ Media appended this easily overlooked footnote to explain David’s use of anonymous sources:

Anonymous sources used in this article have provided information to PJM over the past two years that all proved to be verifiable through publicly available legal documents, databases, professional background checks, and time-stamped social media posts. Sources have expressed fear of threats by Omar and her supporters — and we have been able to verify the threats. See Preya Samsundar and David Steinberg’s coverage of Guhaad Hashi, who was convicted of a stabbing shortly before becoming a key member of Omar’s campaign — during which he posted several threats, including a video, towards local Somalis who spoke up about Omar.

My own sources are well aware of him. The footnote applies to my sources as well. One of them provided me the mug shot of “Guhaad H Said” (below). Hashi proudly displayed his photo with Ilhan Omar on his Facebook page, which Hashi has since wiped.

I documented some of Hashi’s terroristic threats here (January 27, 2020), here (same), and here (January 28, 2020). He is a repugnant character of the thug variety.

David Fahrenthold now covers the free lunch fraud that has roiled the Twin Cities Somali community in the New York Times story “Fraud Investigation in Food Aid Puts Focus on Role of Nonprofits.” Subhead: “The F.B.I. is investigating what it called a ‘massive fraud scheme’ in the Minneapolis area as the government cracks down on misuse of pandemic assistance.” Fahrenthold’s story provides a good summary of the story to date and adds some incriminating evidence in the form of quotes from witnesses, but the fraud as laid out in the FBI search warrants is obvious, massive, and gross. The ripoff is monumental.

Hashi (identified as Guhaad Said by Fahrenthold) turns up at the top of Fahrenthold’s story and then appears as a representative figure throughout:

Last year, with the federal government making available huge new sums of money for programs to feed needy children during the pandemic, a nonprofit organization called Advance Youth Athletic Development set up what it described as an enormous child care operation in northeast Minneapolis that could prepare 5,000 dinners each weeknight.

Based on the group’s claims, the State of Minnesota channeled $3.2 million of the federal food aid to the program.

But on a subzero morning in January, the F.B.I. carried out a series of predawn raids around the region. It revealed a sprawling investigation into Advance Youth Athletic Development and other groups like it — and the much larger nonprofit organization, Feeding Our Future, that was responsible for ensuring that the money provided to the smaller groups was spent properly.

* * * * *

When a reporter recently visited the address listed for Advance Youth Athletic Development, there was no sign of a kitchen or a large child care facility. It was a second-story apartment.

“No. No. No,” said Lul Mohamoud, a neighbor in the apartment across the hall, when asked if she had ever seen 5,000 children there. “I have never seen any kids going in there.”

* * * * *

Advance Youth Athletic Development’s site — the location that turned out to be a second-story apartment — had obtained nonprofit status in June, using a fast-track I.R.S. process for groups that expect to have receipts of less than $50,000 per year. The F.B.I. said that after the nonprofit partnered with Feeding Our Future, it asked for $730,000 in reimbursements in its first month.

* * * * *

Guhaad Said, the leader of Advance Youth Athletic Development, said the state’s numbers were wrong.

“I don’t know where that number came from,” he said in a phone interview. “I don’t know where the 5,000 children came from.”

That number appeared on the group’s application to enroll in one of the food-aid programs, which Feeding Our Future submitted to the state.

Mr. Said said his group had served meals at the site but declined to cite how many.

“There was not proper oversight” from Feeding Our Future, he said. “So people may have made some mistakes here and there. But there was no intention to go out there and waste government money.”

Let just say that someone was out to lunch, and it wasn’t the children that Hashi was allegedly feeding. He should not have come within a country mile of the money spigot.

All parties have denied the charges and no indictments have been handed up, but they will come. Fahrenthold doesn’t mention the forfeiture action initiated by the government to mitigate the damages. It too bears on the case and there is more to come.

My previous posts on this matter are all accessible here.

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