Feds charge 47 in $250M COVID-19 fraud scheme; aid siphoned from child meal program

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Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) ORG XMIT: DCSW325

WASHINGTON – Federal authorities unveiled charges against 47 people accused of siphoning $250 million from a coronavirus pandemic relief program designed to provide meals for children in the largest pandemic-related fraud scheme brought so far by the Justice Department.

Prosecutors described “a brazen scheme of staggering proportions” that exploited a federally funded program to serve needy children in Minnesota during the pandemic.

U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger, the chief federal prosecutor in Minnesota, said the suspects used a local non-profit known as “Feeding Our Future” as cover to claim reimbursements for meals never provided, and allegedly used the federal money to buy luxury cars, houses, jewelry and resort property abroad.

“I commend the work of the skilled investigators and prosecutors who unraveled the lies, deception, and mountains of false documentation to bring this complex case to light,” Luger said.

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