Faribault couple who defrauded $5M as part of Feeding Our Future scheme plead guilty

A Faribault couple has pleaded guilty to federal charges for their involvement in a $250 million fraud scheme through a program designed to provide meals for school children.

Mohamed Ali Hussein, 53, and Lul Bashir Ali, 57, pleaded guilty to one charge each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Each enrolled in the Federal Child Nutrition Program under the sponsorship of the Minneapolis-based organization Feeding Our Future, court documents show. Hussein enrolled under the non-profit Somali American Faribault Education, and Ali enrolled Lido Restaurant as a meal site.

The couple purported to be serving meals to as many as 2,500 children a day, seven days a week through SAFE from February to November 2021 and as many as 1,600 meals per day at Lido from June 2020 to April 2021. In all, they filed fraudulent paperwork claiming to have served almost 2 million meals combined from June 2020 to November 2021.

The reimbursements for these falsely reported meals totaled more than $5 million. Additionally, they paid over $100,000 in kickbacks to Feeding Our Future employee Abdikern Eidleh.

Federal prosecutors initially charged 50 people last fall for their alleged involvement with Feeding Our Future; Hussein and Ali were part of a second wave of 10 defendants charged in March.

In March, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said he expects more charges to be filed in the future.

With Hussein and Ali’s pleas, at least seven defendants have pleaded guilty to their crimes so far.

As part of their plea, the couple will have to pay more than $5 million in restitution and forfeit multiple houses and a vehicle, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Their sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.