A St. Paul woman on Friday was fined $1,000 and barred from soliciting donations in Minnesota for five years after running a "sham nonprofit" that worked with Feeding Our Future, the nonprofit at the center of a $250 million fraud scheme.
The ruling against ThinkTechAct Executive Director Bianca Scott was issued by Hennepin County District Judge Karen Janisch in a case filed in January by Attorney General Keith Ellison against the ThinkTechAct Foundation and its leaders. It was the first legal action Ellison has taken against one of Feeding Our Future's sites.
Under the court order, Scott can't incorporate a nonprofit, become involved with a nonprofit's finances or solicit donations in the state during the next five years. She would have to pay a penalty of $100,000 if she violates the order.
Scott's attorney, Steven Coon, said in an e-mail Friday that his client denies any wrongdoing but has "very limited resources" and agreed to the settlement "to quickly resolve this matter so she could move on with her life."
ThinkTechAct founder Mahad Ibrahim of Lewis Center, Ohio, and board member Abdiaziz Shafii Farah were also sued in the case and indicted in a separate federal criminal case. They have pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.
Federal prosecutors last fall announced the first charges in the case involving Feeding Our Future, the St. Anthony nonprofit they say was engaged in a $250 million fraud scheme with some of its contractors. Prosecutors say it's the largest pandemic fraud case in the nation and have charged or indicted 50 people so far for buying luxury cars, trips and homes with funds intended to pay for meals for needy children.
ThinkTechAct, an Edina nonprofit sponsored by Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition, created dozens of alleged food distribution sites statewide from Burnsville to Faribault and Willmar.
According to prosecutors, ThinkTechAct, which also operated as Mind Foundry Learning Foundation, claimed to serve meals to more than 25,000 children a day and was reimbursed for more than $18 million.
According to court documents, the state determined ThinkTechAct was a "sham nonprofit" without "readily identifiable charitable programming" or active board members, and wasn't properly registered with the state as a nonprofit.