A Bloomington man pleaded guilty this week in the Feeding Our Future food-aid fraud investigation, bringing the total number of guilty pleas in the case to 10 people.
Abdulkadir Awale, 50, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Minneapolis to one count of wire fraud, and agreed to pay more than $2 million in restitution.
An attorney for Abdulkadir did not return a message seeking comments Wednesday.
Abdulkadir’s plea comes in the largest single COVID-19 pandemic relief fraud case in the nation, where an estimated $250 million was allegedly embezzled from the federal government, according to prosecutors. Sixty defendants, mostly from Minnesota, have been charged in the case so far.
Prosecutors charged Abdulkadir, 50, this past March for stealing nearly $11 million in federal Child Nutrition Program money between 2020 and 2022. Abdulkadir spent that money, which is meant to feed disadvantaged children, on personal uses. That included spending more than $300,000 on his home mortgage, nearly $150,000 on two semi trucks, and more than $30,000 on a 2020 Chevy Traverse SUV.
Abdulkadir also allegedly sent more than $4 million to two other defendants in the case.
Abdulkadir owned three restaurants, Karmel Coffee, Sambusa King, and Nawal Restaurant, and enrolled them in the Child Nutrition Program. He then claimed to feed 3.6 million meals through the three restaurants over a 21-month period.
He enrolled in the program using two sponsor organizations, which receive the federal money and then distribute it to smaller groups that are supposed to feed children. Prosecutors identified one of the sponsor organizations as Feeding Our Future, which is at the center of the federal investigation. They referred to the other organization as “Sponsor A,” which in other court documents has been previously identified as Partners in Quality Care.
No staff associated with Partners in Quality Care have been charged in the case.
Abdulkadir also allegedly paid $83,000 kickbacks to Feeding Our Future employee Abdikerm Eidleh in exchange for having his businesses enrolled in the Child Nutrition Program. Abdikerm and Feeding Our Future’s former executive director, Aimee Bock, are both charged in the case.