A man connected to the massive FBI investigation into child nutrition program fraud in Minnesota has pleaded guilty to passport fraud.
Mohamed Jama Ismail, 49, of Savage, pleaded guilty last month to making a false statement when he applied for a new passport in March. He faces six months to a year in prison.
Authorities had seized Ismail's passport when they searched his house Jan. 20 — the same day FBI agents raided St. Anthony nonprofit Feeding Our Future and more than a dozen other Twin Cities locations.
According to federal court documents, Ismail then applied for a new passport in March, falsely claiming he lost his passport at home and falsely claiming he had filed a police report over the lost passport. In April, Ismail used his new passport to check in for a flight to Nairobi, with a stop in Amsterdam, and authorities arrested him on the jetway.
Ismail's attorney said in April he wasn't fleeing the country and was visiting his family. According to charges, his wife and five children live in Kenya.
Ismail is one of the owners of Empire Cuisine & Market in Shakopee. According to federal search warrants unsealed in January, Ismail and his partners collected at least $24 million as one of the food providers for two nonprofit sponsors, Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition. The FBI alleges that $11.1 million of that money was misappropriated.
Neither Ismail nor any of the 17 people accused of fraud by the FBI have been charged with fraud related to the federal nutrition programs investigation.