Juror dismissed after alleged bribery in Feeding Our Future trial

Juror dismissed after alleged bribery in Feeding Our Future trial

Juror dismissed after alleged bribery in Feeding Our Future trial

The sixth week of the federal trial for seven people charged in the massive Feeding Our Future fraud scheme got off to a surprising start on Monday as a juror was dismissed due to a bribery allegation.

According to prosecutors in open court, a juror reported that a woman dropped off a bag with $120,000 in cash at her home and offered her more money if the juror would vote to acquit. That juror was dismissed Monday.

Six men and one woman are charged in this first case stemming from the largest pandemic relief fraud in the country. They face a variety of charges, including conspiracy, wire fraud and bribery worth $40 million.

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Following jury selection, opening statements got underway in the final days of April. The defense continued closing statements Monday after the juror was dismissed and the judge questioned the other jurors about unlawful contact.

Additionally, the judge also seized the defendants’ phones so investigators can look into the alleged bribery.

A search warrant application filed Monday afternoon states that a woman approached the now-dismissed juror’s home shortly before 9 p.m. When a relative of the juror answered the door, the woman handed the relative a gift bag, saying it was a present for the juror, whom she called by name. The woman told the relative to have the juror say “not guilty” during the trial and she would get more of that present.

The relative looked in the bag after going back inside the home and found cash totaling around $120,000, the warrant adds.

Prosecutors have said the defendants took advantage of the relaxed rules related to the Federal Child Nutrition Program during the COVID-19 pandemic for their own gain. The defense attorneys have said many of their clients never knowingly participated in any fraud and blamed the nonprofit sponsors and the state.