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5 charged with trying to bribe juror with $120K in Minnesota Feeding Our Future fraud trial

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Five people have been indicted for their alleged roles in the $120,000 bribery attempt of a juror in Minnesota during the Feeding Our Future fraud trial earlier this month. Federal prosecutors said that authorities found on confiscated devices a “chilling” plan to give a juror more than $120,000 and specific instructions on how to convince other jurors to vote to acquit.

The alleged bribery attempt was reported as the six-week trial in Minneapolis, which began on April 22, was wrapping up against seven people charged in connection with an alleged $250 million fraud scheme through the Minnesota nonprofit Feeding Our Future.  The defendants were among 70 people charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota in the massive fraud scheme.

During the trial, a juror was dismissed after reporting that a woman dropped a bag of cash at her home and offered her more money if she would vote to acquit seven people charged with stealing more than $40 million from a program meant to feed children during the pandemic. The overall scheme is estimated to have diverted $250 million in federal funds in what officials call the “largest pandemic fraud in the United States.”

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said that the unidentified juror was targeted because she was the youngest and a person of color, and called the bribery attempt a “chilling attack on our justice system,” and said it was fortunate that “juror 52 could not be bought.”

Luger said at a news conference that the five charged — Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shafii Farah, Abdulkarim Shafii Farah and Ladan Mohamed Ali — found the juror’s information online, including her home address. Three of the people charged were defendants in the federal fraud trial that ended in June, while the other two were recruited. One of them had been acquitted of all the crimes he had faced. The five people were charged Wednesday with multiple crimes related to bribing a juror. Abdiaziz Shafii Farah faces an additional charge of obstruction of justice for deleting his phone.

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, and Said Shafii Farah devised a “blueprint” instructing the juror to convince the rest of the panel to vote to acquit all of the defendants because prosecutors were racist. The instruction manual said, according to Luger: “We are immigrants. They don’t respect or care about us. You alone can end this case.” Luger said they had “studied the juror, followed her, and determined that she would succumb to their scheme…. and “thought carefully about what they wanted the juror to say to the rest of the jury, and their hopes were to inflame the jury.”

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