FBI officials said several nonprofits in the Minneapolis area misappropriated tens of millions of dollars of COVID-19 relief that was supposed to help children.
The New York Times reported that “a nonprofit organization called Advance Youth Athletic Development [AYAD] set up what it described as an enormous child care operation in northeast Minneapolis that could prepare 5,000 dinners each weeknight.”
The organization was awarded $3.2 million by the state of Minnesota using funds from federal food programs that were dispersed during the pandemic.
In January, however, the FBI “carried out a series of predawn raids around the region,” The Times reported. The FBI was investigating AYAD and similar groups, including the much larger Feeding Our Future, which was supposed to ensure federal funds provided to the smaller nonprofits were spent properly.
The FBI said in court documents reviewed by The Times that it discovered a “massive fraud scheme” among the groups overseen by Feeding Our Future that charged taxpayers for nonexistent meals and pocketed tens of millions of dollars. From The Times:
In affidavits filed in federal court, the Justice Department said it was investigating at least 15 different feeding operations. Together, the F.B.I. said, these groups — all of which were supposed to be overseen by Feeding Our Future — had received more than $65 million from federal food programs during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Almost none of this money was used to feed children,” the government wrote in one filing. “Instead, conspirators misappropriated the money and used it to purchase real estate, cars and other items.”
When a reporter recently visited the address listed for Advance Youth Athletic Development, there was no sign of a kitchen or a large child care facility. It was a second-story apartment.
A neighbor in the building told the outlet that she had “never seen any kids going” into the apartment listed on the address, certainly not 5,000.
No one has been charged yet in the case.
This is simply the latest in a long list of investigations into the allegedly fraudulent use of COVID-19 funds. As The Daily Wire has documented, many have been charged with using Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds for things other than payroll. Most recently, two New Jersey residents were charged with allegedly obtaining nearly $3.3 million in coronavirus relief funds and using those funds to set up “sham payroll companies” and purchase property in Texas. The two also allegedly used the funds to pay personal expenses.
Another recent case involved twin brothers who allegedly ran a $1 million COVID-19 scheme, buying themselves cryptocurrencies and a Camaro.
Then there was the case of the lending platform, Kabbage, which reportedly gave 378 small loans to fake business entities for a total of $7 million. Each of the fake businesses were “structured as single-person operations and received close to the largest loan for which such micro-businesses were eligible,” ProPublica reported.
Another case involved a D.C. pastor allegedly using relief funds to purchase 39 cars and a house.