4th defendant changes plea to guilty in alleged Feeding Our Future fraud scheme
A fourth defendant pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Abdul Abukar, Ali changed his plea to guilty in federal court Wednesday afternoon.
The federal indictment states that Abdul Ali, Yusuf Ali and Bekam Merdassa ran a nonprofit called Youth Investors Lab in St. Paul.
The group applied to run a meal site under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future and allegedly submitted meal sheets that claimed to have served thousands of hot meals each week — 1.5 million in total — and that they were provided by S & S Catering.
However, federal prosecutors say “only a small fraction of those meals” were ever served. In a plea hearing earlier this month, Merdassa admitted that S & S Catering never provided any meals.
In all, Youth Investors Lab received more than $3 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds under Feeding Our Future’s sponsorship. Of that money, $2.6 million was transferred to S & S Catering, which in turn transferred $2.2 million to Franklyn Transportation, a shell company used to launder money that prosecutors say was incorporated by “an unindicted co-conspirator.”