Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Minnesota Attorney General's Office says joint efforts led to largest pandemic fraud bust

  • Updated
  • 0
BRAVA

Minnesota Attorney General's Office says joint effort led to $250 million fraud bust

ROCHESTER, Minn. - The Minnesota Attorney General's Office is detailing how joint partnerships helped lead to the nation's largest pandemic fraud bust.

Earlier this week federal charges were brought against nearly 50 defendants in a $250 million non-profit fraud scheme.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says the department was helping the U.S. Attorney's Office for around two years before the charges were announced on Tuesday.

He said, "The fraudsters took advantage of the generosity of the American people. That's wrong. That's reprehensible. That's why they're facing criminal indictments. That's why they're going to be held accountable for what they did and were glad we're able to play a role in providing the investigation needed to hold them accountable."

In Rochester six employees from Brava Restaurant and Café have been charged in the fraud scheme, four of them are from the Med-City.

To re-cap: the non-profit Feeding our Future is charged with exploiting a federally-funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic and stealing a total of $250 million from taxpayers.

Brava was enrolled in that federal program under the sponsorship of Feeding our Future.

The owners of the business and other co-conspirators claimed to have served millions of meals to hungry children but instead the Department of Justice says the six defendants working at Brava received approximately $4.3 million in federal funds, which they misappropriated for their own personal benefit.

Attorney General Ellison says his office mainly works on civil cases, but through joint efforts, was able to pass along information to ensure criminal charges were brought against hose responsible for the theft.

"We thought it would be right and smart and appropriate to get the federal authorities involved. As Andy (U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger) has said the state supplying information to the federal government was the basis of their ability to indict these individuals," added Ellison.

He went on to say the Minnesota Department of Education refused payment to Feeding our Future due to the fact the office knew the non-profit was fraudulent. As a result the FBI and other federal authorities were later involved.

The following defendants are named in the United States v. Sharmake Jama, et al. indictment:

  • Sharmake Jama, 34, of Rochester, Minnesota, is charged with wire fraud, federal programs bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering. Sharmake Jama was a principal of Brava Restaurant and Café LLC. Brava Restaurant received approximately $4.3 million in fraudulent Federal Child Nutrition Program funds.
  • Ayan Jama, 43, of Rochester, Minnesota, is charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering. Ayan Jama was a principal of Brava Restaurant and Café LLC. Ayan Jama also created shell companies to launder fraudulent proceeds.
  • Asha Jama, 39, of Lakeville, Minnesota, is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering. Asha Jama worked for Brava Restaurant and created shell companies to launder fraudulent proceeds.
  • Fartun Jama, 35, of Rosemount, Minnesota, is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering. Fartun Jama worked for Brava Restaurant and created shell companies to launder fraudulent proceeds.
  • Mustafa Jama, 45, of Rochester, Minnesota, is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering. Mustafa Jama worked for Brava Restaurant and created shell companies to launder fraudulent proceeds.
  • Zamzam Jama, 48, of Rochester, Minnesota, is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering. Zamzam Jama worked for Brava Restaurant and created shell companies to launder fraudulent proceeds.

Recommended for you