MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The founder of Feeding Our Future and 46 others have been charged in what federal officials are calling the largest pandemic fraud in the country.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger on Tuesday announced charges against founder Aimee Bock and others that include conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery. Authorities alleged the massive fraud scheme took at least $250 million from the federal child nutrition program — money that was intended to help feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Authorities claim money did not go to feeding children in need but instead went to buying houses, resort properties, luxury cars, jewelry, and other goods for the defendants.
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Luger described the conspiracy as a "brazen scheme of staggering proportions" in a press conference Tuesday and said the defendants would face federal charges related to criminal conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and paying and receiving illegal kickbacks.
"These individuals believe that they could steal tens of millions of dollars from a federal child nutrition program by claiming to serve food to needy children when they were not. Their goal was to make as much money for themselves as they could while falsely claiming to feed children during the pandemic," he said.
Six indictments for six companies
Luger said in addition to the 47 people indicted, three individuals were "charged by information," meaning they had agreed to waive their right to a grand jury, plead guilty and admit to their roles in the alleged fraud.
Lugar said Bock had engineered a scheme in which Feeding Our Future employees recruited individuals to set up companies to run program sites.
As Lugar explained, the government alleges the defendants in charge of each site then submitted false documents tallying the number of children they had fed as well as falsified receipts to show the food they had purchased for the meals. He said that the government believes the case involved more than 125 million fake meals
Prosecutors charged the 47 defendants across six separate indictments — with each indictment representing a different site, with charges for the group of defendants accused of running that particular part of the operation.
FBI Director Christopher said in a statement that the scheme was the "largest pandemic relief fraud scheme" the agency has investigated. "These charges send the message that the FBI and our law enforcement partners remain vigilant and will vigorously pursue those who attempt to enrich themselves through fraudulent means," he said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.