Criminal Justice

Conspirators allegedly tracked juror before leaving $120K cash at her home

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AP Food Fraud Minnesota_800px

The offices of Feeding Our Future are shown Jan. 27, 2022, in St. Anthony, Minnesota, a week after an FBI raid. Earlier this year, seven defendants were charged in what federal prosecutors allege was a massive scheme to steal from a program meant to provide meals to low-income children in Minnesota. (Photo by Shari L. Gross/The Star Tribune via the Associated Press)

Three defendants accused of cheating the government are among five people charged Wednesday with trying to bribe a 23-year-old juror with $120,000 in cash left in a Hallmark gift bag.

The charges were announced in a June 26 press release by the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota.

The New York Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Press have coverage of the indictment.

The unnamed juror was dismissed from jury service June 3 after she called the FBI. She wasn’t home when the money was delivered to her father-in-law, who was told that there would be more money if the juror voted to acquit, prosecutors previously said.

The alleged bribery conspirators conducted surveillance on the juror to confirm her home address and obtain information on her daily habits, the indictment says. The conspirators allegedly purchased a GPS device to install on the juror’s car, but evidence indicated that it arrived late, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The conspirators, all Somali immigrants, also drafted a list of arguments that the juror could use to persuade other jurors for an acquittal, the indictment says. One of the arguments was that the government was prejudiced against people of color.

It is unclear whether those talking points were delivered to the juror, thought by the conspirators to be the only person of color on the jury.

The five defendants are Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shafii Farah, Abdulkarim Shafii Farah and Ladan Mohamed Ali. All the defendants are charged with conspiracy to bribe a juror, bribery of a juror and corruptly influencing a juror. One of the defendants, Abdiaziz Farah, was also charged with obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors alleged that Abdiaziz Farah conducted a factory reset of his iPhone to delete evidence after the judge ordered all defendants in the fraud trial to surrender their phones to law enforcement.

Ali flew in from Seattle to deliver the bag of cash, prosecutors said. The other conspiracy defendants are from Minnesota.

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah and Abdimajid Mohamed Nur were among five people convicted during the fraud trial earlier this month, according to the news coverage. Said Shafii Farah was one of two defendants acquitted.

The other conspiracy defendants were not charged in the fraud case.

The government had alleged that the seven fraud defendants had accepted government money for a pandemic-related food program while keeping much of it for themselves. The defendants are associated with the Feeding Our Future nonprofit. They are accused of accepting more than $40 million in government money while spending only about 10% of the funds on food, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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