The Minnesota Freedom Fund supplied bail for a suspect who had been in custody on a felony charge after being arrested in a stolen vehicle in Bloomington. Three days after being bailed out by the organization, the man stole a vehicle in Minneapolis and crashed it into a building while trying to flee, charges say.
The controversial nonprofit bail fund, MFF, which raised over $40 million in celebrity-fueled donations during and after the George Floyd riots in 2020, has come under fire several times since then. The organization raised millions on the premise that it would bail out any peaceful protesters arrested at the time. But instead, the organization has repeatedly bailed out offenders with violent or lengthy criminal histories, some of whom have subsequently been charged with new crimes while out on bail, including murder, sex crimes and serious assaults.
One recent repeat offender bailed out by MFF is Ismail Mohamed Hussein, 23, of Minneapolis. In addition to having ten prior convictions since 2019, including felony charges of theft and first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling, Hussein was arrested at least four times in just 23 days in January of this year.
Charges that followed Hussein’s third arrest that month state that on Jan. 13 just before 9 p.m., Bloomington police responded to a report of suspicious activity at a gas station on the 7900 block of France Avenue South. Callers to 911 reported that people were possibly trying to steal from a car parked at the location.
Police found two passengers in the car when they arrived, and staff at the gas station said the driver had walked away as police entered the area.
Police discovered that the vehicle, a Chevrolet Equinox belonging to a rental company, had been stolen earlier in the day from the valet area of a hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Police learned that the keys had been stolen prior to the vehicle being stolen.
The suspect who walked away was located by police inside a nearby restaurant and was identified as Hussein. Inside the stolen Equinox, police also located keys belonging to two other vehicles and one key fob also had house keys attached, according to the criminal complaint.
Hussein was booked into Hennepin County Jail and was charged with one felony count of receiving stolen property in the case, and bail was set at $5,000.
Court records show that Minnesota Freedom Fund posted bail on behalf of Hussein and he was released from custody on the afternoon of Jan. 20.
Not even three days later, just after 5 a.m. on Jan. 23, Minneapolis police were dispatched on a report of a vehicle theft.
The suspect, later identified as Hussein, had taken an idling plow truck from the parking lot of Caribou Coffee on the 4700 block of Cedar Avenue South as workers completed shoveling snow for the business.
Hussein subsequently crashed the truck into a grocery store and a concrete construction barrier. He was chased down by employees and held until police arrived, according to the criminal complaint.
Hussein was charged with one felony count of motor vehicle theft and a new bail amount of $5,000 was listed in the court record. Hussein remained in custody for several weeks until March 1 when Hennepin County Judge Marta M. Chou ordered Hussein conditionally released with no new bail required.
Hussein is not currently in custody, and he is scheduled to appear in court on the two new felony cases on April 4.
The BANE Act
Rep. Mary Franson of Alexandria introduced a bill in the Minnesota Legislature last week directly aimed at prohibiting nonprofits like MFF from bailing out suspects.
The Bail Abatement Non-Profit Exclusion Act, or BANE Act for short, states it would prohibit nonprofits from organizing or registering in the state of Minnesota for the purpose of “providing payment to a person or to a state court in order to satisfy a bail condition determined by the court.”
“By paying a defendant’s bail, the Minnesota Freedom Fund is literally handing these criminals a get out of jail free card,” Franson said. “Many of these defendants go on to commit more heinous, violent crimes after their release. The BANE Act will stop organizations, like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, who support dangerous criminals so we can make our communities safer.”
It remains to be seen whether the bill will get majority support in the Democratic-controlled House.
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.