A Twin Cities nonprofit that's the focus of a major FBI fraud investigation involving federal meal programs announced Friday that it has ended operations.
Feeding Our Future executive director Aimee Bock said in a statement that the group's board voted Wednesday to dissolve "in light of negative media reports and frozen assets."
Bock set up the nonprofit in 2016 to provide meals to low-income children through partner organizations.
Prosecutors have not charged Bock or anyone else with any crime in connection with the investigation.
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In search warrant affidavits unsealed last month, the FBI alleged that a network of people connected to Feeding Our Future took advantage of looser rules during the pandemic and used a web of shell companies to launder and misappropriate tens of millions of dollars.
They allegedly spent it on vehicles, travel and real estate, including commercial buildings on Lake Street in Minneapolis and a luxury apartment in Nairobi, Kenya.
According to the warrants, Feeding Our Future received about $307,000 from federal child nutrition programs in 2018, and nearly $3.5 million the following year. By 2021, that figure rose to nearly $198 million.
The rapid growth drew the attention of officials at the Minnesota Department of Education, which oversees distribution of the federal funds. Feeding Our Future sued the department in late 2020 alleging it was slow-walking approval of meal distribution sites, and “covertly terminated” some.
A Ramsey County judge sided with the nonprofit, concluding MDE wrongfully withheld the money.
The state agency contacted the FBI early last year and told investigators that certain sites were submitting fraudulent documents to receive reimbursements as well as “artificially inflating the number of children and low-income individuals receiving benefits,” according to the warrants.
In an interview with Sahan Journal last month, Bock said, “Feeding Our Future does not commit fraud, does not allow fraud, does not condone fraud, and most certainly does not actively participate in fraud.”
Federal prosecutors filed a civil forfeiture case to seize 14 properties allegedly bought with stolen money.