Mohamed Ali Hussein and Lul Bashir Ali have admitted to their involvement in a massive $250 million fraud scheme that exploited a federally funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
In their guilty pleas and court documents, Hussein, 53, and Ali, 57, both residents of Faribault, confessed to conspiring with others between June 2020 and January 2022 to participate in a fraudulent scheme. The scheme aimed to obtain and misappropriate millions of dollars in federal child nutrition program funds that were designated to reimburse the cost of serving meals to underprivileged children.
The defendants’ court documents revealed that in April and September 2020, Ali and Hussein, respectively, enrolled their companies, Lido Restaurant and Somali American Faribault Education (SAFE), in the Federal Child Nutrition Program under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future. Subsequently, they began submitting fraudulently inflated invoices seeking reimbursement for meals supposedly served to thousands of children daily. To support their false claims, they submitted fabricated paperwork, including exaggerated meal counts.
Furthermore, court documents revealed that Lido Restaurant also participated as a vendor in the program, providing meals to Hussein’s SAFE site. The two also submitted fraudulent claims seeking reimbursement for a significantly larger number of meals and food than Ali’s company had actually prepared. As part of the scheme, Hussein paid over $100,000 in kickbacks to Feeding Our Future personnel in exchange for the nonprofit’s sponsorship of Lido Restaurant and SAFE.
In total, Hussein’s company claimed to have served more than 1.2 million meals to children between February and November 2021, resulting in approximately $2.1 million in fraudulently obtained Federal Child Nutrition Program funds. Ali’s company claimed to have served over 700,000 meals to children between June 2020 and April 2021, acquiring approximately $2.9 million in illicit funds from the program.
Hussein and Ali pleaded guilty on June 6 before Judge Nancy E. Brasel to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of their guilty pleas, they have agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $5,037,649 and forfeit property and a vehicle to the United States. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled at a later date.
This case was brought to light following an investigation conducted by the FBI, IRS, Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph H. Thompson, Matthew S. Ebert, Harry M. Jacobs, and Chelsea A. Walcker, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Baune overseeing the seizure and forfeiture of assets.