Target of Fed Fraud Probe Arrested After Flight From Rochester
Minneapolis, MN (KROC-AM News) - A target of a federal investigation into fraud involving Federal Child Nutrition Program funds in Minnesota was arrested on Tuesday after he flew from the Rochester Airport to the Twin Cities airport and was about to board an overseas connecting flight.
The US Attorney for Minnesota says 49-year-old Mohamed Jama Ismail of Savage has been charged with a federal count of passport fraud and made his initial appearance before a federal magistrate on Thursday. The criminal complaint indicates his passport was seized by federal investigators in January when they executed a search warrant at his home. He is accused of applying for a new passport last month by fraudulently claiming he had lost his passport at home.
According to court documents, "Ismail booked a flight from Rochester, Minnesota, to Nairobi, Kenya, via Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, scheduled to depart on April 20, 2022. At 10:30 a.m. on April 20, 2022, at Rochester International Airport, Ismail used his newly obtained U.S. passport to check-in for the flight. Ismail arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and was arrested by FBI agents while boarding his flight to Amsterdam."
The court documents also detail Ismail's links to several companies that received "suspiciously high amounts of reimbursements under the Federal Child Nutrition Program." It's alleged that Ismail and other co-conspirators use the companies to "fraudulently obtain, launder, and misappropriate millions of dollars in federal funds." Federal prosecutors say three firms, including one owned and controlled by his Ismail and a partner(Empire Cuisine & Market LLC), received more than $30 million from the federal program from May 2020 2 January 2022.
A news release from Minnesota US Attorney Andrew Luger says the money from the federal program was appropriated to provide meals to thousands of Minnesota children each day at a variety of distribution sites. As part of the probe into the alleged fraud scheme, investigators recovered receipts involving more than $800,000 in wire transfers from the company co-owner by Ismail to entities in China that were traceable to the federal program. The news release also says more than $700,000 in federal funds were wired from the company to Kenya last year.