At the Feeding Our Fraud trial

Attorney Steve Schleicher is a partner at Minneapolis’s venerable Maslon firm. He is the firm’s Chair of Investigations and White Collar Defense Group. His colleagues obviously think highly of him.

Schleicher represented the State of Minnesota pro bono in the prosecution of Derek Chauvin. Attorney General Keith Ellison personally recruited him and was thrilled when he consented (as I found in the emails supplied by the AG’s office in response to my Data Practices Act request at the time).

Now Schleicher represents Said Shafii Farah — one of seven defendants in the first Feeding Our Future fraud trial, with several more trials to come. The Feeding Our Future fraud represents the biggest Covid fraud case uncovered so far. It involves the redistribution of some $250 million of American taxpayer funds, mostly to select members of Minnesota’s Somali community.

Schleicher had easier sledding in the Chauvin case than he does in this one. Schleicher’s client here will not testify. Defendant Mukhtar Shariff is the only one of the seven defendants who has chosen to testify. He took the stand yesterday afternoon and his testimony continues this morning.

I came down to court to get a sense of how it is going. So far it is slow going. I hope would to see the cross-examination, but it’s going to be a while before we get there.

Walking the downtown Minneapolis skyway into court this morning, I ran into a prominent lawyer who is not involved in the case. I told him where I was headed and asked for his guess about the outcome: “Guilty.”

He added: “I wish someone” — he pointed his finger at me — “would write about Schleicher.” He felt that Schleicher had presented as a savior of the state in the Chauvin prosecution, but that this case showed what it was all about — “publicity,” “money.”

Well, as a famous fictional American once put it, “This is the business we have chosen.” Of course he must have hoped to get something out of it for himself when he contributed his services to the prosecution in the Chauvin case.

At the press conferences announcing indictments in this case, the government featured its clawback of ill-gotten cash and property purchased with the proceeds of the fraud. I would just add that if Schleicher is charging his usual hourly rate and Farah has the cash to pay it, the government may not have exhausted the possibilities.

JOHN adds: My colleague Bill Glahn attended yesterday’s proceedings and is also back in court today. His account on yesterday’s trial day, when the jury finally heard evidence on behalf of one of the defendants, is here.

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