Somali defendants attempt to bribe juror with $120,000 in their Minnesota Covid funds fraud case

"This is the stuff that happens in mob movies," attorney Joe Thompson said.

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Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
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On Sunday night, a now-former juror in a Minnesota fraud trial came home to find that someone had dropped off a gift bag containing $120,000 in cash with a promise of "more" if she moved to find the defendants in the case not guilty. The 23-year-old did not abide by the demands, opting instead to immediately inform law enforcement.

As a result, all seven defendants accused of using a charity to steal $41 million in federal aid meant to go towards feeding children in need were re-arrested at the request of United States Assistant Attorney Joe Thompson. The juror in question, Juror 52, was removed from the case, and the remaining members of the jury were sequestered to prevent any further tampering.

According to the Sahan Journal, when Juror 52 got home on Sunday night, she was informed by her father-in-law that a woman who was "possibly Somali," had an accent, and wore a "long black dress," had stopped by around 8:50 pm. She gave him a gift bag covered in butterflies with rolls of cash piled inside, and told him to give it to Juror 52, whose real name she knew.

"The woman told the relative to tell Juror #52 to say not guilty tomorrow and there would be more of that present tomorrow," an affidavit stated. 

Shortly after Juror 52 found out, both the local Spring Lake Park police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations were involved, with the money being turned over to the latter organization. The matter was then brought up in court on Monday.

In addition to being arrested again, the defendants had their phones confiscated and were told they could not leave the courthouse, even during breaks. The remainder of Monday's proceedings went ahead as planned, and the jurors entered deliberations.

"This is the stuff that happens in mob movies," attorney Joe Thompson said.

The seven defendants, all immigrated to the US from Somalia, are part of a larger case that has seen 70 charged with stealing a total of $250 million from the federal Child Nutrition Program via the Feeding Our Future charity. They allegedly delivered few, if any, meals, and instead spent the money on cars, homes, vacations, and other luxury items. 

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