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FBI raids suburban homes in connection with attempted juror bribe in Feeding Our Future case

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FBI raids suburban homes in connection with attempted juror bribe in Feeding Our Future case

Jun 12, 2024 | 3:06 pm ET
By Deena Winter
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FBI raids suburban homes in connection with attempted juror bribe in Feeding Our Future case
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FBI agents search the Shakopee townhome of Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, who was convicted Friday in the Feeding Our Future case. Photo by Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer.

The FBI raided the homes Wednesday of four men convicted Friday in the Feeding Our Future fraud, as federal investigators continue their investigation into an attempt to bribe a juror in the massive federal pandemic relief fraud case.

The day before the jury was set to begin deliberations, a woman dropped off a gift bag with $120,000 in cash at a juror’s home. The juror was not home at the time and the woman left the money with the juror’s father-in-law, promising to to bring another if she voted to acquit the seven defendants. 

The juror reported it to the Spring Lake Park Police Department and was excused from jury duty, by U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel, who said the juror was “terrified.” The judge ordered all of the defendants jailed, their cell phones turned over to the FBI, and the jury sequestered for five days until it reached a verdict on Friday, convicting five of the seven defendants. 

FBI agents searched the homes of Abdimajid Mohamed Nur of Shakopee, Mohamed Jama Ismail of Savage and Mukhtar Shariff of Burnsville on Wednesday according to multiple media reports. Agents also searched the home of Abdiaziz Shafii Farah of Savage for the second time after searching his home last week. Prosecutors said Farah was a ringleader of the group of seven, as co-owner of Empire Cuisine & Market in Shakopee, around which the case revolved.

FBI Public Affairs Specialist Diana Freedman confirmed searches took place, but would not release any details about what was found.

As rain poured down, agents in several SUVs descended on Nur’s gray townhome, some wearing blue latex gloves, others lugging large canvas bags. At one point, four of them took photos of a black Jeep parked in the street. 

Nur’s neighbor said she didn’t know him or that he was involved in the federal court case until FBI agents arrived that morning, all parking the wrong way on the quiet suburban street not far from Canterbury Park.

“I’m trying to rack my brain like, ‘What could they possibly be doing?’”

She said Nur’s family lived next door for years, but never spoke to her family, except an older man who would wave hello. 

The jury found Farah guilty of 23 charges: six counts of wire fraud; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery; two counts of federal programs bribery; 11 counts of money laundering; making false statements in a passport application; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was acquitted of one wire fraud count.

Nur was convicted of four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; four counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to money launder. He was acquitted of three money laundering counts.

Nur was just 20 years old when he got involved in the food program, where his lawyer Edward Sapone said he may have been “in over his head.” His sister, Hayat Mohamed Nur, 25, of Eden Prairie, also was involved in the scheme, and was convicted Friday of four wire fraud counts. She was acquitted of money laundering.

Shariff was convicted of two wire fraud charges and two money laundering charges and acquitted of two bribery charges. He was the chief executive officer of Afrique Hospitality Group, which used federal funds to build an East African community center called Afrique in Bloomington. Prosecutors said he used Afrique as a shell company to obtain and launder federal funds, pocketing $1.3 million. Shariff was the only defendant who testified in his own defense. His attorney filed a motion Thursday to get him released from jail, noting his home hadn’t been searched as part of the bribe investigation. 

Ismail was a co-owner of Empire Cuisine & Market, and prosecutors say he pocketed over $2 million in the scheme, buying a GMC pickup, two trucks for $167,000, and spending $137,000 to pay off the mortgage on the house he’d bought six years earlier. He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and acquitted of another count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to money launder.

The group of seven were the first to go to trial in the sprawling $250 million case, facing seven 41 charges alleging they falsely claimed to give away 18.8 million meals to needy children from 50 sites statewide. Prosecutors said they fabricated invoices and submitted thousands of phony names of children to get $49 million in federal funds, most of which was spent on fancy cars, upscale homes and lavish vacations.