A defendant in the Feeding Our Future investigation agreed Tuesday to surrender two properties in Kenya along with other purchases that he made with stolen taxpayer money.
Liban Yasin Alishire, 43, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., pleaded guilty to federal charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop 16 other counts.
In court, Alishire admitted taking nearly $1.8 million from government child nutrition programs by falsely claiming to have served 870,000 meals over 11 months in 2020 and 2021. He used shell companies to transfer much of the ill-gotten proceeds to himself.
According to court documents, Alishire used one of his shell companies to wire $216,300 to a Kenyan firm to purchase property at the Karibu Palms Resort on an Indian Ocean beach near Mombasa. At his plea hearing, Alishire agreed to sell the property, as well as a Nairobi apartment, and hand the proceeds over to the U.S. government.
Prosecutors say Alishire enrolled two businesses, Lake Street Kitchen and Community Enhancement Services, as meal distribution sites under the sponsorship of the nonprofit Feeding Our Future. He made fraudulent reimbursement claims by submitting falsified invoices and attendance rosters.
After the hearing, defense attorney Matt Forsgren told reporters that the plea deal does not require Alishire to testify against anyone else connected to the case.
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"He's focusing on what he did wrong. He's not trying to reduce his sentence by cooperating or providing information about others. He's really just focusing on his crime," Forsgren said.
Alishire is one of 50 defendants charged last year in what Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger called a “brazen scheme of staggering proportions” to defraud two meal programs operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered on the state level by the Minnesota Department of Education.
Alishire is the sixth defendant in the case to admit his role in the conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel told Alishire that if she orders consecutive sentences for each count, he could face up to 15 years in prison. But defense attorneys and prosecutors agreed that he should serve between 41 and 51 months.
The plea deal requires Alishire to pay $712,084 in restitution and forfeit a boat, trailer, and Ford F150 pickup truck.