Minnesota Nonprofit Accused of Buying Millions in Luxury Cars and Vacation Homes Aimed at Feeding Hungry Children - Rolling Stone

Minnesota Nonprofit Accused of Buying Millions in Luxury Cars and Vacation Homes Aimed at Feeding Hungry Children – Rolling Stone

The Federal Public Prosecution has 47 people have been indicted in connection with an alleged $250 million fraud scheme that was intended to help feed starving children in Minnesota who instead moved into luxury cars, commercial real estate and vacation homes.

The numerous charges were announced on Tuesday, September 20, as the Justice Department revealed six separate indictments. in statementAttorney General Merrick Garland called the alleged plot “the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme indicted to date.”

The scheme allegedly centered around the nonprofit group Feeding Our Future, whose founder and CEO, Amy Bock, was among 47 people indicted. Bock and others are accused of defrauding the Federal Child Nutrition Program, which is administered by the USDA and helps provide free meals to children in need.

Bock’s attorney, Kenneth U Odebok, says rolling rock“The indictment does not imply guilt or innocence. It is the beginning of the criminal process. I am amazed that Ms. Bock has been indicted because she did nothing to merit indictment.”

In Minnesota, the state Department of Education oversees the Federal Child Nutrition Program. Meals are distributed at designated locations, which must be sponsored by an approved organization (such as Feeding Our Future). Sponsors are responsible for monitoring distribution sites and filing reimbursement claims. The bulk of reimbursement claims go back to sites, although the sponsoring agency retains 10 to 15 percent as an administration fee.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the USDA relaxed some requirements for participation in the federal Child Nutrition Program, allowing for-profit restaurants to participate and distributing food to children outside of educational programs. Although these changes were approved to ostensibly make access to food easier during the pandemic, authorities argue that Feeding Our Future has exploited them to make millions.

In 2019, Feeding Our Future was receiving and distributing approximately $3.4 million in federal funds; By 2021, that number had jumped to nearly $200 million. Employees at the organization are accused of recruiting individuals and entities, such as restaurants, to open FCNP sites throughout Minnesota. Shell companies were set up to sign up for the program as sites as well, and additional shell companies were created to launder money that these sites claimed would feed hungry children.

Feeding Our Family is accused of opening more than 250 locations across Minnesota. On top of securing and distributing more than $240 million in federal child nutrition funds, the nonprofit allegedly received more than $18 million in administrative fees as well as kickbacks and kickbacks from the individuals and companies that it sponsored. The Justice Department alleged that all of that money went to buy everything from luxury cars and residential and commercial property in Minnesota to international travel and real estate in Kenya and Turkey.

“This was a shameless scheme of astonishing proportions,” US Attorney General Andrew M. Luger for the Minnesota District said in a statement. “These defendants took advantage of a program designed to provide nutritious food to children in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they prioritized their own greed, stealing more than a quarter of a billion dollars in federal funds to purchase luxury cars, homes, jewelry, and beach resort properties overseas. I commend the work of investigators and prosecutors. skilled people who exposed lies, deceit and mountains of false documentation to shed light on this complex issue.”

While Tuesday’s sweeping indictments represent tremendous progress, the case against Feeding Our Future has been piling up for several years. Such as Star Tribune According to reports, the Minnesota Department of Education first questioned Amy Bock about the surge in the number of sites her organization was sponsoring in 2020. The Department of Energy even halted payments to Feeding Our Future in early 2021, prompting Blcok to sue the agency for discrimination over the organization’s work. Non-profit with minority communities (particularly the large Somali community in Minneapolis).

The FBI began investigating Feeding Our Future in May 2021, and on January 20, 2022, agents carried out a massive search warrant operation that recovered more than $3.5 million from a Feeding Our Future bank account. In addition, the Federal Reserve seized more than $185,000 from Buck’s personal bank account, $13,462 in cash, and a 2013 Porsche Panamera from her home.

After the search warrant process, Bock defended Feeding Our Future and denied the fraud allegations in an interview with a local Minnesota outlet, Sahan magazine. “Feeding Our Future does not commit fraud, does not allow fraud, does not condone fraud, and certainly does not actively engage in fraud,” Bock said. “Personally, I’m excited to make sure the kids have the basics of life, and food. To read that all my hard work is skewed into something that isn’t hard. It’s really hard.”

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