Feeding Our Future juror bribe: 5 indicted in 'chilling attack' on justice system

Five people have been charged in the attempted bribe of a Feeding Our Future trial juror, including three defendants in the previous case.

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, 35, of Savage, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, 23, of Shakopee, Said Shafii Farah, 42, of Minneapolis, Abdulkarim Shafii Farah, 24, of Minneapolis, and Ladan Mohamed Ali, 31, of Seattle, Washington are accused of conspiring to bribe one of the jurors to return a not guilty verdict in the trial.

Said Farah, Abdiaziz Farah, and Abimajid Nur were all defendants in the Feeding Our Future trial. Abdiaziz Farah was convicted on 23 counts in the trial. Nur was convicted on ten separate counts. However, Said Farah was acquitted by the jury on all nine counts he faced. However, he's back in federal custody after the new bribery charges.

The entire announcement can be watched below:

In early June, a Feeding Our Future trial juror reported that a person had come to her home and left a bag of cash totaling $120,000 that was meant in exchange for the juror to vote to acquit. That juror called the police to report the bribe and was later dismissed from the jury while the rest of the jury was sequestered.

‘Like something out of a mob movie’ but ‘so much more’

"The news of this plot was announced in court that Monday morning," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. "The news shocked all in the case and all who work in our criminal justice system. Corruption of a jury through intimidation or bribery is a serious federal crime that carries a significant prison sentence. Nationally, the Department of Justice and the FBI take jury intimidation and bribery extremely seriously and always have. But it just doesn’t happen in Minnesota – until now."

In the days after the bribe attempt, federal authorities searched the homes of multiple defendants in the case.

Ultimately, the jury in the Feeding Our Future trial returned a split verdict, finding five of the seven jurors guilty on charges.

Prosecutors say the bribery suspects targeted the juror because she was the youngest one on the case – 23 years old.

"When the bribe was announced in court, lead prosecutor Joe Thompson rightly stated that it was like something out of a mob movie," Luger explained. "That was three weeks ago. But now that we’ve put in weeks of work around the clock to unravel this plot, it is so much more. It’s alleged in the indictment and other documents, these defendants engaged in a chilling attack on our justice system. They sought to buy a juror and use her to infiltrate the juror with their own false arguments – arguments that had nothing to do with the evidence or law. They studied her, followed her, and determined that she would succumb to their scheme."

According to the complaint, the bribery suspects did online research to track down the juror's address and information about her background and family. They even went to the extent of purchasing a GPS device to install on her vehicle to track her movements.

Ali flew into the Twin Cities from Seattle and was ultimately the one who prosecutors say handed over the cash to a family member of the juror.

‘Juror 52 could not be bought’

"Fortunately for all of us, Juror 52 could not be bought, and she terminated their scheme," said Luger. "There’s one phrase that comes up in this case that really encapsulates the chilling nature of this attack. When the defendants instructed Juror 52, or tried to, ‘You alone can end this case.’ That phrase comes up later as we unravel the evidence that we encountered."

After the bribe was reported, and a judge ordered the defendants to turn over their phones to law enforcement, authorities say Abdiaziz Farah did a factory reset of his phone to delete evidence. Nur and Said Farah also attempted to delete evidence.

All five suspects are now facing charges of conspiracy to bribe a juror, bribery of a juror, and corruptly influencing a juror. Abdiaziz Farah is also charged with obstruction of justice.

Roles of each defendant

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger explained the following roles each defendant played in the bribery scheme:

Ladan Ali was the woman who showed up at Juror 52’s home with the bribe money.

Abdimajid Nur was a Feeding Our Future trial defendant. He recruited Ladan Ali, and a blueprint for Juror 52 and an instruction manual on how to win an acquittal was found on his phone.

Said Farah was a Feeding Our Future trial defendant. He provided the bribe money and he deleted on his phone a video of Ladan Ali delivering the bribe to Juror 52’s home. That video was recovered by investigators.

Abdiaziz Farah was a Feeding Our Future trial defendant. He organized the conspiracy. He deleted all of his phone contents in court on June 3. A list of jurors was found in his home.

Abdulkarim Farah is the brother of Abdiaziz Farah and Said Farah. He surveilled Juror 52, learned more about her, and assisted Ladan Ali the night that she delivered the bribe funds to Juror 52’s home.

The blueprint for bribery and acquittal

The following is the text of the "blueprint" for Juror 52 to persuade the rest of the jury, recovered from the phone of Abdimajid Nur:

Below are arguments to convince other jurors. REMEMBER your vote will be NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS for all defendants. We are immigrants they don’t respect and care about us. Government Late investigation-All agents did not swiftly act on the case. Jury doesn’t have full picture of what happened on time. Misleading Information including the math which was done to fit the Government narrative. Lack of credible witnesses (3 years later). Nobody remembers anything about what happened. Assumed guilt from the beginning of the case and didn’t even bother to investigate or talk to anyone at all, just followed the money. No site visits, no surveillance and nothing was ever done to visit any of the locations. They had over a year to do it but they didn’t at all. No one from the main sponsor is indicted. Defendants as presented by the Government made millions and millions outside of the food program. For example, over one million in just credit card sales at one of their businesses. No one from MDE is indicted. Nobody from state government is indicted. No experts including nutritionist and even food experts were presented to jury to explain how the food industry or food program works. Prejudice against people of color. The Government kept attacking Somali witnesses and asking them if it’s true in the Somali culture to cheat, steal or lie which was very racist. The Government just followed the money and didn’t do any real investigation to better understand the reimbursement program. Hadith was a big time liar and nobody should believe him. His main goal is to get a deal from the government and not go to prison. Evidence presented doesn’t support the main facts of the case. Just pictures and pool counts that were not even verified and most of the witnesses did not even understand. Most of the data came from CLICS which the defendants don’t have access to so it was flawed. This is a reimbursement program and it took months to receive payment. The defendants took an enormous financial risk to do this work that they didn’t have a lot of experience for. The government had options for other remedies to collect money back and don’t see this as a criminal case. The defendants are new to the program and never received any kind of support. State leaders and other government entities should have stopped payments and are responsible for such mess. All defendants are not guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The Government hasn’t proven that at all and hasn’t met that burden at all. Why is it always people of color and immigrants prosecuted for the fault of other people including Kara Lomen and even the Governor. Where is Kara Lomen? Where is MDE finance people who paid millions and millions of dollars. Defendants did a lot of work including millions in food and expenses so who the hell does all that to commit fraud. A lot of money was spent on food and other expenses but the government try to hide them by creating their own categories especially in hidden pivot tables. Defendants used their legal names, documents such as passports and driver’s license. No concealment or nothing is hidden so no wire fraud or any money laundering at all. They created legal entities with the state and the federal government with no intentions to hide at all. Sponsor was responsible for everything They received millions and millions of dollars to oversee this but they didn't and the largest sponsor and its staff members is not even indicted. This case is not about money or children and all they are trying to top incite and inflame. The defendants ran for profit entities, worked hard and earned the money rightfully. It's their money and they can spend whatever they want with it. It's not illegal to spend your own money that you so rightfully earned. The above and many other reasons presented I firmly conclude NOT GUILTY on all counts for all 7 defendants. The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt at all. Not even close at all. She really needs to convince all the remaining jurors to mark NOT GUILTY for all defendants and all counts. Stand your ground and don’t change your mind even if anyone pushes you to vote different. NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS FOR ALL defendants. You alone can end this case. Always do your best to convince other jurors to vote NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS FOR ALL DEFENDANTS.

Feeding Our Future verdicts

  • Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, 35, of Savage, guilty of 23 of 24 counts. Farah was found not guilty of one count of wire fraud.
  • Mohamed Jama Ismail, 51, of Savage, guilty of three of the four counts against him. The not-guilty verdict came on the same wire fraud count as Farah.
  • Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, 23, of Shakopee, guilty of 10 of the 13 counts. Nur was found not guilty on three counts of money laundering.
  • Said Shafii Farah not guilty of all nine counts against him.
  • Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin not guilty of all three counts.
  • Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff, 33, of Bloomington, guilty on three of six counts.
  • Hayat Mohamed Nur, 27, of Eden Prairie, guilty on three of five counts.

Audit: Minnesota Department of Education oversight was 'inadequate'

The Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor released a report detailing how the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) monitored, or didn't monitor, Feeding Our Future while the nonprofit organization stole millions of dollars meant to feed disadvantaged children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor "found that MDE’s inadequate oversight of Feeding Our Future created opportunities for fraud. MDE failed to act on warning signs known to the department prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and prior to the start of the alleged fraud, did not effectively exercise its authority to hold Feeding Our Future accountable to program requirements, and was ill-prepared to respond to the issues it encountered with Feeding Our Future."