You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Feds stop another person linked to Feeding Our Future scheme from leaving US

Minneapolis Star Tribune 9/26/2022 Stephen Montemayor, Star Tribune
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger described the case as the largest pandemic fraud in the country, calling it "a brazen scheme of staggering proportions." © Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger described the case as the largest pandemic fraud in the country, calling it "a brazen scheme of staggering proportions."

MINNEAPOLIS — Federal authorities stopped another person linked to the Feeding Our Future fraud case from leaving the country Monday, arresting the 49th person to be charged in the sprawling $250 million child food aid conspiracy.

Agents arrested Mohamed Muse Noor hours before his flight to Istanbul, Turkey, was scheduled to leave the Twin Cities on Monday morning. A federal criminal complaint charging Noor with participating in the fraud conspiracy said that law enforcement learned about the itinerary Sunday evening.

According to charges, Noor is the cousin of Abdikerm Abdelahi Eidleh — a Feeding Our Future employee who has also been charged in the conspiracy and is accused of pocketing millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks from other co-conspirators. Monday's new criminal complaint described Eidleh as a fugitive whom agents believe to now be in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Noor did not have an attorney listed as representing him as of late Monday afternoon.

Noor is accused of fraudulently obtaining nearly $500,000 in federal child nutrition program money through his Xogmaal Media Group under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future. Xogmaal Media Group's website described itself as a Minneapolis-based Somali marketing, advertising, and communications firm. It also operates as an online news source that reports on Minnesota's Somali community.

According to charges, Noor incorporated Xogmaal Media Group in late November 2020 and soon enrolled it as a federal child nutrition program site under Feeding Our Future's sponsorship. Noor and Feeding Our Future director Aimee Bock signed and submitted a site application on Dec. 29, 2020, and the Minnesota Department of Education approved its application in February 2021.

One Feeding Our Future employee raised concerns about sponsoring Xogmaal Media Group and other entities that had no connections to children.

"We took a lot of organization(s) that don't work with children or are advocate(s)," the unnamed employee wrote in a February 2021 email to Bock that was cited in Noor's criminal complaint. "I am just realizing that now. For example xogmaal is a TV show program. That have no interest with children. These are the things we need to clean up."

But the complaint said that Bock nonetheless allowed Xogmaal to participate in the program under sponsorship. Within weeks of enrolling in the program, Noor claimed that Xogmaal Media Group was serving meals to 1,000 children a day and 1,500 children daily months later.

Bock pleaded not guilty and has publicly denied any wrongdoing, including after the FBI raided her office and her Rosemount home in January. A message was left seeking comment from her attorney on Monday. Eidleh did not have an attorney listed as representing him in the case.

In all, Xogmaal Media Group received $494,316 in federal funds from Feeding Our Future – with little if any of that money used to buy food or provide meals to children, according to charges. Most of the money instead allegedly went to shell companies owned by Eidleh and a former employee indicted for soliciting and receiving kickbacks.

"Bank records show that Eidleh did not use this money (or the money he received from other Federal Child Food Nutrition Program sites) to provide food or meals to underprivileged children," the complaint reads. "Instead, he appears to have used much of the funds in the accounts of his various shell companies to fund his lifestyle and enrich himself."

That included $212,000 toward Eidleh's home mortgage; $88,000 sent to an online cryptocurrency exchange, and $50,000 spent at a Dubai jewelry store.

———

©2022 StarTribune. Visit startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon