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Juror reports receiving attempted $120,000 bribe in pandemic relief fraud trial

Federal authorities are investigating after a juror in a federal trial over an alleged pandemic relief fraud scheme told police she received $120,000 in cash in a pot attempt -of wine to acquit the accused, according to court documents.

Seven people are on trial in what federal prosecutors have called the largest pandemic fraud scheme to date. They are accused of participating in a $250 million fraud scheme through Feeding Our Future, a Minnesota nonprofit, that allegedly exploited funds from a federal child nutrition program during the pandemic of COVID-19 to purchase big-ticket items like luxury cars and homes.

The cash in the alleged bribery scheme was turned over Sunday, a day before closing arguments in the trial in Minneapolis federal court, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in the case.

PHOTO: Images of cash in connection with an alleged jury bribe included in a search warrant filed June 3, 2024.

Images of cash in connection with an alleged jury bribe included in a search warrant filed on June 3, 2024.

US Department of Justice

A woman went to the home of the juror — identified in court documents as Juror No. 52 — shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, according to the affidavit. Juror No. 52 was not home at the time, but a relative opened the door. The woman “handed the relative a gift bag and said it was a gift for Juror #52,” using the juror’s first name, the affidavit states.

“The woman told the relative to tell Juror #52 to find himself not guilty tomorrow and there would be more gifts tomorrow,” the affidavit states.

The relative found a “large amount of money” in the gift bag, and when Juror No. 52 returned home, the juror “immediately called 911 to report the incident,” the affidavit states.

The Spring Lake Park Police Department responded and found approximately $120,000 in $100, $50 and $20 bills in the gift bag, according to the affidavit, which included photos of the money. The FBI took custody of the money Monday and questioned the juror.

PHOTO: Images of cash in connection with an alleged jury bribe included in a search warrant filed June 3, 2024.

Images of cash in connection with an alleged jury bribe included in a search warrant filed on June 3, 2024.

US Department of Justice

The search warrant targeted the cell phones of the seven defendants – “all of whom allegedly had access to Juror #52’s identifying information” – and the devices are currently in FBI custody, the affidavit states.

“(It) is very likely that someone with access to the juror’s personal information conspired, at a minimum, with the woman who delivered the $120,000 bribe,” the affidavit states.

The court – including the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys – was informed of the alleged bribe attempt Monday morning.

Juror No. 52 was dismissed Monday and the judge ordered jurors sequestered for deliberations, according to Twin Cities ABC affiliate KSTP.

As deliberations began Tuesday morning, a second juror was dismissed after apparently learning of the alleged bribe attempt from a family member, according to KSTP.

All seven defendants on trial have denied any wrongdoing in the alleged Feeding Our Future fraud scheme and have pleaded not guilty to their charges.

They are among dozens of people charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and corruption in connection with the alleged scheme. Several other people charged in the case have since pleaded guilty.

Among the defendants awaiting trial is Feeding our Future founder Aimee Bock, who has also maintained her innocence.

ABC News

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