Bloomington man pleads guilty to role in Feeding Our Future fraud scheme

A Bloomington man has become the latest person to plead guilty in connection to the massive fraud scheme that exploited a child nutrition program.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 50-year-old Abdulkadir Awale pleaded guilty to wire fraud Tuesday for his role in the $250 million Feeding Our Future scheme. He was one of 10 people named in the second wave of Feeding Our Future charges announced in March.

As part of his plea, Awale admitted that he participated in the scheme from April 2020 through 2022, claiming millions in federal funds that were supposed to be reimbursements for feeding underprivileged kids during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The attorney’s office says Awale enrolled his businesses — Karmel Coffee, Sambusa King and Nawal Restaurant — as vendors under Feeding Our Future, then falsely claimed he was providing more than 3.6 million meals for kids. That led to a federal reimbursement of around $11.8 million, some of which he used to pay his home mortgage, buy vehicles and withdraw money.

Federal prosecutors say Awale also paid at least $83,000 in kickbacks to a Feeding Our Future employee so he could participate in the scheme.

As part of his plea, Awale was ordered to pay more than $2.1 million in restitution.

His sentencing date hasn’t yet been set.

Awale’s guilty plea comes a week after a Faribault couple pleaded guilty to their role in the Feeding Our Future scheme. In addition to them, at least five others have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme.

At least 60 people are facing charges for the scheme, and prosecutors say more are possible.