Feeding Our Future insider takes the stand as prosecution's star witness

In its second week of testimony and evidence, the prosecution in the federal Feeding Our Future fraud trial in Minneapolis brought on their star witness.

Hadith Ahmed told jurors he personally netted about $2 million from the government through defrauding the Federal Child Nutrition Program.

"Everybody was opening a site, everybody was claiming a high number of meal counts," testified Ahmed. "There was money everywhere."

Seven men are on trial in connection to one of the largest alleged pandemic-related fraud schemes in the U.S., all connected to two Twin Cities nonprofits: Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition.

These are the first of 70 people charged related to the alleged fraud, and 18 have already pleaded guilty.

The U.S. Attorney alleges these seven defendants account for $40 million of the alleged fraud out of roughly $250 million in total.

Hadith Ahmed pleaded guilty in October 2020 to a single count of wire fraud, part of a plea deal in exchange for cooperation and testimony.

The Eden Prairie man said he joined Feeding Our Future in 2020 and quickly joined the alleged fraud, opening his own meal site called SW Metro Youth, claiming to serve 2,000 kids every day, netting more than a million dollars in payments. He said it was all made up.

But, he also said he served as the "right-hand man" to Feeding Our Future founder Aimee Bock, who is also charged and awaiting trial.

In that role, he processed the invoices and meal rosters from a number of food vendors and meal sites, which he testified were all fake.  And if you wanted to get processed quickly, you had to give him a kickback.

"When money came in, I would make sure they got paid first," he testified, which the prosecution repeatedly referred to as the "VIP treatment."

Part of that treatment was the guarantee that no one would inspect the meal sites.

To make the kickback scheme work, Ahmed opened a shell company called Mizel Consulting. Prosecutors showed jurors a number of checks written to his company for thousands of dollars each, one of them over $100,000, but he testified there was no consulting going on.

It was, he said, merely a place to take in all those kickbacks, which added up to another $1 million.

Asked by the prosecutor if others at Feeding Our Future took kickbacks, he responded "all of us were."

Closing out the direct testimony, the prosecution addressed the big issue that defense attorneys mentioned repeatedly during their opening statements: That Ahmed is testifying to save his own skin and his credibility is therefore in question.

Prosecutor: "Why are you testifying?" 

Ahmed: "To tell the truth."

Prosecutor: "What else?"

Ahmed: "To get a break from the government."

Prosecutor: "Do you regret what you did?"

Ahmed: "Yeah."

Prosecutor: "Why?"

Ahmed: "Because I stole money from the government."