Another defendant pleads guilty in Feeding Our Future fraud scheme
Another one of the 60 defendants charged in the sprawling Feeding Our Future fraud scheme has pleaded guilty in federal court.
On Friday, Qamar Ahmed Hassan entered a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
The charges carry maximum sentences of five and 10 years in prison, respectively, but the plea deal states that a guideline sentence would land her between 41 and 63 months in prison. Whether she is considered a “minor participant” will determine which end of that range she faces. She is also expected to pay $5.6 million in restitution.
According to a criminal indictment, Hassan was the owner of S&S Catering, a restaurant and catering business that became a meal distribution site sponsored by Feeding Our Future. S&S claimed to have served 1.2 million meals from September 2020 to April 2021, receiving $6.8 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds during that time. In reality, “only a fraction” of those meals were actually served.
The company also served as a vendor to other meal distribution sites under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future. S&S reported it contracted with these sites to provide 8 million meals from December 2020 to December 2021, receiving $10 million in payments for its purported services, court records show.
In all, prosecutors say S&S Catering defrauded more than $16.5 million in federal funds through its participation in the scheme.
Hassan allegedly used $2.4 million of this money to buy commercial space on Lake Street in Minneapolis, which housed S&S Catering along with “numerous other entities” involved with Feeding Our Future.
Hassan’s guilty plea is the latest in what federal prosecutors call the largest COVID-19-related fraud scheme in the country.
Altogether, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says Feeding Our Future opened more than 250 sites across the state and obtained more than $240 million in federal funding meant to feed school children. Much of that money was used to buy luxury vehicles, property or travel.
Prosecutors filed charges against 50 defendants last year and added charges against another 10 this spring. The case is still open, and more charges could be brought in the future.