In free lunch fraud: The press conference

Alpha News covers United States Attorney Andrew Luger’s press conference announcing the filing of federal charges in the massive free lunch conspiracy in editor Anthony Gockowski’s story “47 charged in alleged $250 million Feeding Our Future fraud scheme.” Supplement Anthony’s story with Bill Glahn’s Center of the American Experiment’s backgrounders here (an invaluable scandal timeline with links) and here (on the related Partners in Nutrition story).

The Alpha News story links to video of the press conference below. Sitting in the front row to the right of the screen that was set up for the press conference, I was unable to take photos of the slides that accompanied Luger’s presentation. Luger’s slides include exhibits that depict the scope as well as the open and obvious nature of the fraud. You couldn’t miss it. Indeed, as Luger made clear, the Minnesota Department of Education (which administered the free lunch program) picked up on it more or less from the outset.

So how do you explain that it continued for 20 months? That was the question that I asked Luger at about 44:00 of the press conference video. You can’t hear my question but you can hear Luger’s answer. He referred me to the four corners of the six indictments. However, I wasn’t the only one asking the question.

Apart from going to the FBI, the Minnesota Department of Education dealt with this massive fraud ineffectively. Bill Glahn shows that $227 million poured through these programs in fiscal year 2022 alone. I can’t penetrate the circle of love around Walz. Someone really ought to follow up with a question or two addressed to him.

This is a huge case and a big story. It nevertheless represents only half of the story — see Bill Glahn’s backgrounders above. Luger vows more charges to come in the Feeding Our Future cases filed yesterday. Aimee Bock and Feeding Our Future spun off from Partners in Nutrition. Partners In Nutrition now has a pending federal lawsuit (complaint here) seeking reinstatement to the free lunch program. Bill Glahn notes:

In addition to suing MDE in Federal court for reinstatement, Partners in Nutrition is suing MDE in state appeals court for payment of hundreds of invoices representing millions of dollars dating from November 2021 through May 2022.

For the vast majority of unpaid invoices, MDE cites incomplete (or missing) documentation. But for a dozen or so invoices dated from November and December 2021, MDE flat-out refuses to pay because they involve figures named in the FBI search warrants.

In addition, Partners is suing MDE for the agency’s refusal to admit an additional 213 new locations into the program.

One way or another, there is more to come.

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