Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is suing one of Feeding Our Future's sites, ThinkTechAct Foundation, and its leaders, arguing that they ran a "sham nonprofit," misusing funds and violating state laws.
Ellison's office filed the civil lawsuit Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court against the Edina nonprofit, its founder Mahad Ibrahim of Lewis Center, Ohio; board member Abdiaziz Shafii Farah of Savage and executive director Bianca Scott of St. Paul.
It is the attorney general's first legal action against one of Feeding Our Future's sites since the federal investigation into the organization was publicly revealed a year ago. Since then, 50 people, including Ibrahim and Farah, have been charged or indicted in the case, which prosecutors say involves more than $250 million in fraud.
Ibrahim and Farah have pleaded not guilty in the federal case. Messages left with their attorneys weren't immediately returned Tuesday, and Scott couldn't be reached.
The Attorney General's Office can't file criminal charges in the case, but is responsible for enforcing charitable giving laws in Minnesota. The office also sought court supervision of Feeding Our Future's closure as a nonprofit. Now, Ellison is asking the court to dissolve ThinkTechAct, fine the three leaders and ban them from working with any nonprofit in Minnesota.
FBI agents raided ThinkTechAct's Edina offices nearly a year ago as they investigated Feeding Our Future and its contractors for stealing federal money meant to fund meals for low-income kids during the pandemic. Prosecutors say it's the largest pandemic-related fraud investigation in the country and one of the largest federal fraud cases in state history.
ThinkTechAct created dozens of food sites statewide — from Burnsville to Faribault and Willmar — to distribute meals to kids. According to federal prosecutors, the nonprofit, which also operated as Mind Foundry Learning Foundation, claimed to be serving meals to more than 25,000 children a day in Minnesota.
Prosecutors allege the meal counts were inflated to allow organizers to pocket millions of dollars. The nonprofit was reimbursed more than $18 million for providing meals and was overseen by both Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition in St. Paul.
According to the Attorney General's Office, Ibrahim misused the federal money to pay his personal credit cards or other expenses, and spent nearly $15 million of at least $21.8 million of the nonprofit's money on entities he owned or co-owned with Farah. One of Farah's entities paid Ibrahim nearly $850,000 for "consulting."
After the FBI raid, ThinkTechAct closed its office, bank account and website.
For years, ThinkTechAct didn't register with the Attorney General's Office or file the annual reports nonprofits are required to submit. Under Minnesota law, a nonprofit must also have at least three board members, who are considered fiduciaries responsible for overseeing the organization and reviewing financial information.
Two board members listed at ThinkTechAct told the Attorney General's Office they were never actually involved with the organization or didn't even know they were listed as a board member. Without the proper oversight, the Attorney General's Office says, there was flagrant misuse of money.
The Attorney General's Office wouldn't confirm Tuesday if it is investigating any other nonprofits associated with Feeding Our Future or its board members.