Feeding Our Future defendant requests change of venue, citing likelihood of ‘hostile’ jury

A defendant in the alleged $250 million Feeding Our Future fraud scheme is requesting to stand trial in another state, claiming a jury of Minnesotans would be biased against him.

Glenn Bruder, the attorney representing Ahmed Ghedi, argued in a filing Thursday that the attitude in Minnesota news media and social media circles is “uniformly hostile to those charged” in what prosecutors have called the largest COVID-related fraud case in the country.

“In this case, there is virtually no chance that a Minnesota jury, as a group, will be able to set aside the pervasive, negative impressions they have already developed about these defendants and their conduct,” the motion states.

He specifically requested his client’s trial be moved to the Northern District of Illinois, where he claims “there is a large population who will not so readily identify with the government against the defendant.”

Bruder acknowledged that the court already rejected a change of venue motion in a separate Feeding Our Future-related case on the grounds that defendants are only entitled to a jury “which can set aside its prejudices and judge a case fairly and impartially.” However, he called that previous ruling unjust for creating “a burden unlikely to ever be met.”

View KSTP’s full Feeding Our Future coverage

Ghedi is accused of jointly running a shell company called ASA Limited with two other defendants, Abdihakim Ahmed and Salim Said, and registering it as a Federal Child Nutrition Program meal site.

ASA Limited claimed to be serving 2,000 to 3,000 meals to schoolchildren seven days a week out of a St. Paul strip mall, but federal prosecutors say reimbursement documents were falsified. Over the course of a year, ASA Limited received $5 million in reimbursements for 1.6 million “meals,” an indictment states. Feeding Our Future, ASA Limited’s sponsor, allegedly received $400,000 in kickbacks.

Charging documents also allege Ghedi purchased four cars worth a total of $243,361 with his cut of the payments.

Ghedi is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, federal programs bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering — 10 counts in all.

So far, federal prosecutors have charged 60 co-conspirators connected to Feeding Our Future, and at least 15 have pleaded guilty.