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The Department of Justice has announced charges against dozens of people allegedly involved in what federal prosecutors are calling the largest case of COVID-19 pandemic fraud in the country.
Sahan Journal has compiled the names of people listed in several different criminal indictments (that is, charging documents) for their alleged roles in a $250 million scheme to defraud federal child nutrition programs.
None of these individuals have been convicted of any crimes and many have asserted their innocence, directly and through their attorneys.
U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said in a news conference on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, that arrests were made that day. More charges were filed later that year and in 2023.
Charges so far include conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery. Federal prosecutors said the “defendants obtained, misappropriated, and laundered millions of dollars in program funds that were intended as reimbursements for the cost of serving meals to children” from low-income families.
Attorneys for several defendants declined comment or did not return messages seeking comment in September. Many defendants did not have attorneys listed for their cases, and were represented by the public defender’s office when they made their first appearance in court on September 20, 2022.
“My client is going to defend herself fully, and we entered a not guilty plea today and we look forward to defending this in court,” Amy Conners, who is representing Qamar Hassan, said in September.
Kenneth Udoibok, who is representing Aimee Bock, said in September that his client is innocent. She pleaded not guilty.
This list will be updated when new defendants are charged.
The following individuals are named in the indictment United States v. Aimee Marie Bock, et al. indictment
- Aimee Marie Bock, 41, Apple Valley, founder and executive director of Feeding Our Future.
- Abdikerm Abdelahi Eidleh, 39, Burnsville, employee of Feeding Our Future.
- Salim Ahmed Said, 33, of Plymouth, owner and operator of Safari Restaurant.
- Abdulkadir Nur Salah, 36, Columbia Heights, owner and operator of Safari Restaurant.
- Ahmed Sharif Omar-Hashim, also known as “Salah Donyale,” 39, Minneapolis, creator of Olive Management Inc.
- Abdi Nur Salah, 34, Minneapolis, former senior policy aide to Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey, acquired the nonprofit Stigma-Free International from its previous owner, listed in the indictment as “Individual A.”
- Abdihakim Ali Ahmed, 36, Apple Valley, creator of ASA Limited LLC.
- Ahmed Mohamed Artan, 37, Minneapolis, became the new president of Stigma-Free International and registered it with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.
- Abdikadir Ainanshe Mohamud, also known as “AK,” 30, Fridley, ran the Stigma-Free Willmar food site.
- Abdinasir Mahamed Abshir, 30, Minneapolis, ran the Stigma-Free Mankato food site.
- Asad Mohamed Abshir, 32, Mankato, ran the Stigma-Free Mankato food site.
- Hamdi Hussein Omar, 26, St. Paul, ran the Stigma-Free Waite Park food site.
- Ahmed Abdullahi Ghedi, 32, Minneapolis, created ASA Limited LLC.
- Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed, also known as “Chef Abcos,” 54, Columbus, Ohio, owner Afra Grill.
The following individuals are named in the indictment United States v. Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, et al.
- Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, 33, Savage, owner and operator of Empire Cuisine and Market LLC.
- Mohamed Jama Ismail, 49, Savage, owner and operator of Empire Cuisine and Market LLC.
- Mahad Ibrahim, 46, Lewis Center, Ohio, president and owner of ThinkTechAct Foundation.
- Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, 21, Shakopee, created Nur Consulting LLC.
- Said Shafii Farah, 40, Minneapolis, owner of Bushra Wholesalers LLC and brother of Abdiaziz Farah.
- Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin, 32, Minneapolis, owner of Bushra Wholesalers LLC.
- Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff, 31, Bloomington, chief executive officer of Afrique Hospitality Group.
- Hayat Mohamed Nur, 25, Eden Prairie, sister of Abdimajid Mohamed Nur and participator in scheme.
The following individuals are named in the indictment United States v. Qamar Ahmed Hassan, et al.
- Qamar Ahmed Hassan, 53, Brooklyn Park, owner and operator of S & S Catering.
- Sahra Mohamed Nur, 61, Saint Anthony, ran Academy For Youth Excellence site.
- Abdiwahab Ahmed Mohamud, 32, Brooklyn Park, ran Academy For Youth Excellence site.
- Filsan Mumin Hassan, 28, Brooklyn Park, ran Youth Higher Educational Achievement site.
- Guhaad Hashi Said, 46, Minneapolis, ran Advance Youth Athletic Development site.
- Abdullahe Nur Jesow, 62, Columbia Heights, ran Academy For Youth Excellence site.
- Abdul Abubakar Ali, 40, St. Paul, ran Youth Inventors Lab site.
- Yusuf Bashir Ali, 40, Vadnais Heights, ran Youth Inventors Lab site.
The following individuals are named in the indictment United States v. Haji Osman Salad, et al.
- Haji Osman Salad, 32, St. Anthony, principal of Haji’s Kitchen.
- Fahad Nur, 38, Minneapolis, principal of The Produce LLC.
- Anab Artan Awad, 52, Plymouth, president of Multiple Community Services.
- Sharmarke Issa, 40, Edina, creator of a company called Minnesota’s Somali Community and manager of Wacan Restaurant LLC.
- Farhiya Mohamud, 63, Bloomington principal and chief executive officer of Dua Supplies and Distribution Inc.
The following individuals are named in the indictment United States v. Liban Yasin Alishire, et al.
- Liban Yasin Alishire, 42, Brooklyn Park, president and owner of Community Enhancement Services Inc.
- Ahmed Yasin Ali, 57, Brooklyn Park, created a food site run by Lake Street Kitchen in the JigJiga Business Center.
- Khadar Jigre Adan, 59, Lakeville chief executive officer of food site run by Lake Street Kitchen in the JigJiga Business Center.
The following individuals are named in the indictment United States v. Sharmarke Jama, et al.
- Sharmake Jama, 34, Rochester, principal of Brava Restaurant and Cafe LLC.
- Ayan Jama, 43, Rochester, principal of Brava Restaurant and Cafe LLC.
- Asha Jama, 39, Lakeville, worked for Brava Restaurant.
- Fartun Jama, 35, Rosemount, worked for Brava Restaurant.
- Mustafa Jama, 45, Rochester, worked for Brava Restaurant.
- Zamzam Jama, 48, Rochester, worked for Brava Restaurant.
The following individuals are named in criminal informations, another form of charging document. Each of the following people are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
- Bekam Addissu Merdassa, 39, Inver Grove Heights.
- Hadith Yusuf Ahmed, 34, Eden Prairie.
- Hanna Markegn, 40, Edina.
Two people were arrested and charged via complaint after buying tickets to leave the country.
- Mekfira Hussein, who was charged after buying one-way ticket to Ethiopia that was set to leave on the evening of September 20.
- Mohamed Noor, a prominent community journalist and owner of a Xogmaal Media Group in Minneapolis who also goes by Deeq Darajo. Authorities arrested him September 26 in Chicago as he was on his way to Istanbul.
- Abduljabar Hussein, 42, faces charges of wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering. He is married to Mekfira Hussein.
The following individuals were charged on March 13, 2023.
51. Mohamed Ali Hussein, Faribault, president and owner of Somali American Faribault Education (SAFE), a nonprofit organization that operated a food site under Feeding Our Future.
52. Lul Bashir Ali, Faribault, owner of Lido Restaurant, a food site and meal vendor that purported to provide and serve meals at the Somali American Faribault Education site.
53. Mulata Ali, manager of Franklyn Transportation in Minneapolis, which was previously identified as a shell company funneling food-aid money.
54. Kawsar Jama, Eagan, principal of Gedo Community Services and Ahlan Childcare Center Inc.
55. Abdikadir Kadiye, Plymouth, president of Hobyo Health Care Foundation.
56. Abdulkadir Awale, Bloomington, principal of Karmel Coffee and Sambusa King, and the chief executive officer of Nawal Restaurant.
57. Khadra Abdi, principal of Shafi’i Tutoring and Homework Help Center.
58. Ayan Farah Abukar, founder and executive director of Action for East African People, a nonprofit that provided health, housing, and education services to East Africans across Minnesota. The defendant used the nonprofit to enroll multiple food sites.
59. Sade Osman Hashi, chief executive officer of Great Lakes Inc., a food site that also operated as a vendor called Safari Express.
60. Sharon Ross, executive director of House of Refuge Outreach, a nonprofit organization in St. Paul.