Five charged with juror bribery conspiracy in Covid fraud trial

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Legend, The FBI raided the offices of Feeding Our Future in January 2022

  • Author, Max Matza
  • Role, BBC News

Five people have been charged with offering a $120,000 (£94,000) bribe to a juror to thwart a conviction in a US pandemic fraud trial.

The anonymous 23-year-old juror said she received a gift bag filled with cash in the final days of the federal criminal trial in Minneapolis.

“This is what happens in mob movies,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson said earlier this month after the alleged scheme emerged.

Prosecutors have charged 70 people with stealing $250 million from federal food programs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the five accused of corruption, three were tried for providing false names of nonexistent children they claimed to be nurturing and creating a fraudulent paper trail in order to pocket millions of dollars.

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shafii Farah, Abdulkarim Shafii Farah and Ladan Mohamed Ali were charged with conspiracy to bribe a juror, bribery of a juror and bribery of a juror.

At a news conference Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger called the alleged bribery attempt “a chilling attack on our justice system,” adding that he was grateful the juror “cannot be bribed.”

Prosecutors say the group targeted the woman because she was the youngest on the jury and “they believed she was the only juror of color.”

Legend, Prosecutors say the money was delivered in a Hallmark gift bag

The juror was part of a trial over the theft of more than $40 million by workers at Feeding Our Future, a now-defunct charity that received money from a federal food assistance program intended to feed hungry children.

Earlier this month, the jury convicted five of the defendants in the embezzlement case, but acquitted two others.

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur and Said Shafii Farah wanted the juror to convince the rest of the jury that the prosecutors were racist so they would acquit the defendants, according to Mr. Luger.

The prosecutor said the suspects developed an instruction manual to prim the jury, in which they would be told: “We are immigrants. They don’t respect us or care about us.

Prosecutors say one of the defendants, Ladan Mohamed Ali, who was not charged in the original plot, traveled to Minneapolis from Seattle on May 30 and began tracking the juror’s movements before leaving. approach her.

On the night of June 2, she and another accused allegedly went to the juror’s home and gave money to one of his relatives.

They promised the family member that more money would be paid if she could convince the other jurors to vote against the conviction, prosecutors said.

Bribery of a juror is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, this is the first criminal case of attempted bribery of a federal juror in the state.

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