Men named in Feeding Our Future investigation donated to Frey campaign, records show
By Andrew Hazzard and Becky Z. Dernbach, Sahan Journal
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At least six men who allegedly participated in a broad scheme to defraud the federal government by stealing food-aid funds made donations to the reelection campaign of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
The men are tied to Safari Restaurant and Event Center, a popular dining and catering venue in south Minneapolis. Safari is alleged to be a significant player in the larger scam surrounding Feeding Our Future, according to a federal warrant unsealed on January 21 in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota.
Federal investigators believe the nonprofit organization defrauded the U.S. government of millions of dollars intended to feed lower-income children across Minnesota.
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In the search warrant, FBI investigators named Safari owners and affiliates, including 20 individuals, who are suspected of fraudulently collecting millions through Feeding our Future. And it laid out a network of shell companies and spending on items like a $2.8 million Minneapolis mansion, a $950,000 home in Plymouth and an $87,000 pickup truck.
Sahan Journal reviewed the federal search warrant, business filings with the Minnesota Secretary of State, and campaign finance records to compare individuals’ names, addresses, and identifying information.
Six of the men named in the warrant donated $1,000 each to Frey’s 2021 reelection campaign— the maximum amount allowable under state law — between July 26 and 27, 2021, according to campaign finance records filed in Hennepin County. Their donations represent a small portion of the Frey campaign’s overall fundraising, which amounted to $676,271 in 2021.
None of the men named in the warrant has been charged with any criminal activity related to Feeding Our Future. The donations listed in campaign disclosure filings have not been alleged to violate any state or federal laws.
When contacted by Sahan Journal, the mayor’s communications advisor referred questions to the campaign. Frey’s campaign manager did not immediately respond to questions about the campaign donations.
Among the individuals named in the search warrant and campaign finance disclosures is Abdikadir Mohamud. In December 2021, Frey appointed Abdikadir to his Minneapolis Community Safety Workgroup. According to a December press release from the mayor’s office, Frey created the group to bring together 35 leaders with varying perspectives from across the city to develop recommendations about public safety and police accountability in Minneapolis.
Frey’s announcement of the work group came on the heels of a tense campaign, in which the mayor fought a ballot effort to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a department of public safety. (The ballot measure failed.)
The mayor’s office did not respond to a question about why Frey appointed Abdikadir to this work group. Frey is not named in the warrant for the Feeding Our Future investigation.
The federal warrant identifies Abdikadir Mohamud as an owner of Stigma-Free International — a nonprofit originally incorporated and directed by Minneapolis City Councilmember Jamal Osman, according to state business filings — and alleges that he made false claims about providing 2,000 meals a day in Willmar in August 2021.
He also founded Tunyar Trading, according to the warrant, an alleged shell company that the group used to launder nutrition dollars back to themselves. In a statement to Sahan Journal, Jamal said that he separated himself from Stigma-Free before the time of the alleged fraud. State records show he was removed as an “incorporator” of the organization in October 2020.
Two other individuals named in the warrant, Abdulkadir Nur Salah and Salim Said, also appear in campaign records as donors to Frey. The warrant identifies the two as owners of Safari Restaurant. The men allegedly used stolen nutrition funding to buy a $2.8 million Minneapolis mansion that serves as an office building.
Salim Said also purchased a $950,000 home in Plymouth and an $87,000 pickup truck with the money, according to the warrant.
Mayor Frey’s office confirmed that Abdulkadir Nur Salah is the brother of Abdi Salah, a senior policy aide to the mayor.
Safari’s ties to Feeding Our Future
On Jan. 20, the FBI raided the offices of Feeding Our Future, which received federal funds designated for feeding disadvantaged children and adults. In 2018, the nonprofit, headquartered in St. Anthony, reported receiving $300,000 in federal funds. By 2021, that amount had ballooned to a total of $244 million.
The Minnesota Department of Education, which administers the federal funding to Feeding Our Future, reported information to the FBI that prompted the eight-month investigation. Authorities say three Feeding Our Future employees participated in the fraud, including executive director Aimee Bock.
Bock, Feeding Our Future, and its attorneys did not respond to Sahan Journal’s phone calls, emails, and text messages seeking comment. No charges have been filed against anyone targeted in the Feeding Our Future investigation.
Feeding Our Future is accused of using several contractors and organizations to defraud the program. One of the largest is allegedly Safari Restaurant and Event Center, which authorities say received $15 million intended to feed children between May 2020 and November 2021.
Bock personally intervened when the state originally denied Safari’s application to participate in the program; the Minnesota Department of Education cited a federal policy against approving new sites, according to the warrant.
By fall 2020, the Minnesota Department of Education suspected Safari was falsifying its reimbursement orders. The group claimed to be feeding more than 5,000 children a day, more than St. Paul Public Schools, and state officials terminated its participation in the program.
Feeding Our Future sued, claiming the state wasn’t properly processing applications. Money continued flowing to Safari while the legal process played out.
But the FBI said it believes most of that $15 million ended up in the pockets of Safari-related businesses, many of which are tied to men who donated to Frey’s campaign.
Safari shell companies funneled funds
Several people affiliated with Safari allegedly created companies that were used to funnel money taken from the program into spending on real estate, cars and other items.
That effort included several individuals, including donors to Frey’s campaign, according to the search warrant and campaign finance records.
Safari co-owner Abdulkadir Nur Salah appears in the warrant as the signatory of a company bank account that received $6.2 million in federal nutrition funding. The account transferred $1.1 million to a group of four companies owned by Safari partners and affiliates, according to the search warrant.
The companies are owned by Abdulkadir Nur Salah, Salim Said, Abdihakim Ali Ahmed, and Ahmed Ghedi.The four are among the six men who donated $1,000 to the Frey campaign in July 2021.
Sahan Journal attempted to call and email the men listed in the warrant, and has not received responses to messages seeking comment. Sahan Journal contacted Abdihakim Ali Ahmed, but he hung up after a reporter identified himself.
The Safari account controlled by Abdulkadir Nur Salah transferred an additional $1.9 million to two companies, Tunyar Trading and Horseed Management, which both held vendor contracts to provide food at Feeding Our Future sites, according to the warrant.
Tunyar Trading is owned by Abdikadir Mohamud and Horseed Management is owned by Abdinasir Abshir. Both men donated $1,000 to Frey’s campaign.
Donor on mayor’s safety group heads company alleged to receive $3.9 million through shell company
Abdikadir Mohamud is listed as the owner of multiple companies, including Tunyar Trading, according to state business records. One is called T H Security Group, a fact touted in the mayor’s announcement of the appointees to the Minneapolis Community Safety Workgroup.
T H Security Group’s official website is filled with Latin filler text and the phone number is not in service. Tunyar Trading and T H Security Group have the same official registered address in Fridley, according to state records.
Investigators believe Tunyar Trading is a shell company used to launder money back to Safari associates, according to the warrant. Tunyar Trading received transfers totaling $3.9 million in 2021 from Safari and related firms, including Stigma-Free International.
According to state records obtained from the Secretary of State’s office, T H Security Group was officially dissolved Jan. 26 after the company failed to file for renewal.
Additional reporting by Joey Peters.