Investigator Says Feeding Our Future Defendants Shared Lists of Fake Names of Children. • Minnesota Reformer

An IRS investigator testified Monday that Feeding Our Future defendants provided the names of thousands of children to whom they provided free meals during the pandemic, but he found they rarely matched the names of students enrolled in surrounding school districts, raising questions raised questions about whether the children were. Real. Other names were clearly made up or gibberish, and often appeared on rosters for multiple distribution sites, said IRS Special Agent in Charge Joshua Parks.

For example, the names Getsaname Hester, Serious Problem, Britishy Melony and Angel Albino appeared on multiple rosters submitted to receive reimbursement from the federal government for pandemic meals.

But none of these names appear among the more than 193,000 students enrolled in school districts near the defendants’ alleged distribution locations.

“Serious Problem” was the most common name on all rosters the defendants submitted to the state for reimbursement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parks appeared in federal court Monday as a witness during the fourth week of testimony from prosecutors in the first trial involving the $250 million government food aid fraud during the pandemic; 70 people have been charged.

The seven people currently on trial are accused of fraudulently claiming to have served more than 18 million meals to children to obtain more than $40 million in reimbursement, which prosecutors say included luxury cars, vacations, homes and bought jewelry – instead of food for children.

Parks said that in addition to identical names — including gibberish names — appearing in different locations, the defendants often submitted the same names to the state day after day, week after week, month after month — as if no child ever failed to show up. get food.

“I wouldn’t expect a child to attend every meal,” Parks said.

Of the 3,027 names of children to whom the defendants claimed to provide free meals, only 177 matched the more than 193,000 students enrolled in 20 school districts surrounding the alleged distribution locations.

For example, at one site in Bloomington, Parks found that only four of the 999 names submitted to the state matched the names of the 10,302 students enrolled in Bloomington schools.

In the Shakopee School District, only 40 of the 1,556 names defendants submitted for reimbursement matched, out of 9,688 students enrolled.

In St. Paul, only 62 of the 1,094 names defendants submitted matched the names of 32,317 students.

Of the 3,308 names submitted to the state who reportedly received meals at Bloomington’s Dar Al-Farooq Mosque, only 170 names matched those of the school district’s 10,302 students.

Parks also found that 733 of the 1,001 names submitted by defendants as children receiving meals at a Minneapolis location were identical to those at Dar Al-Farooq Mosque in Bloomington. The 1,003 names on an Apple Valley selection matched Dar Al-Farooq’s selection in 734 cases in the spring of 2021.

And five sites had 122 of the same names in April 2021.

$180,000 worth of textiles from China

Earlier Monday, IRS Special Agent Brian Pitzen concluded his testimony on text messages and WhatsApp messages that showed the defendants spent a lot of time communicating about how to distribute the money, as opposed to the logistics of handing it out of 18 million meals.

Defense attorneys argued that Pitzen could have shown more photos and conversations about food defendants purchased for the program. Steven Schleicher, attorney for Said Shafii Farah, said the defendants purchased more than $1 million worth of food and showed a video of dozens of boxes of fruits and vegetables in what he said was a “partially full warehouse.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson showed the jury food invoices with dollar amounts much smaller than what defendants spent on non-food purchases, such as $180,000 on Chinese textiles.

Prosecutors also showed messages between Kara Lomen — who ran the nonprofit Partners in Nutrition, which sponsored some of the defendants’ sites — and defendant Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, in which she warned him that some of the same names were appearing on two of his distribution sites. She also said a handful of children were also enrolled and claimed by a child care center.

“I just want you to choose which one you want them on,” wrote Lomen, whose name has come up repeatedly during the trial but has not yet been charged or charged.

Lomen indicated that she was bending the rules and said she would give Farah time to correct the schedules “before anyone notices lol.”

“I feel really good about the way we are protecting all of you, so it’s worth it,” Lomen wrote.

The trial resumes on Tuesday and is expected to last six weeks.