Plymouth woman admits roles in food, Medicaid scams

A man points to a screen showing evidence
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Andrew Luger shows off photos on Tuesday, Sept. 20, of falsified meal cards that were used to claim thousands of children were participating in the program. Luger explains that, after researching names of children with school rosters, only a tiny percentage of students actually existed.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

A woman charged in connection with what prosecutors say was a “brazen” scheme to defraud federal child nutrition programs has pleaded guilty in that case, and to separate charges of Medicaid fraud.

Anab Artan Awad is among 50 people allegedly connected to the nonprofit Feeding our Future to be charged with stealing $250 million from two U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that provide meals to schoolchildren. On Friday, Awad, 52, became the fifth defendant to plead guilty.

Through a Somali interpreter, Awad admitted taking $9.3 million in federal funds for purportedly serving meals at distribution sites in Osseo, Faribault, and Minneapolis. At the Minneapolis site, Awad falsely claimed to have served 1.5 million meals from January to April of 2021, or about 12,600 per day. The location served only a fraction of the meals that Awad claimed on reimbursement forms.

At “Golden Meadows,” her purported site in Faribault, prosecutors alleged and Awad admitted that none of the names on the attendance rosters that she submitted matched the names of children enrolled in the Faribault School District.

When he first announced the charges in September, Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said the alleged conspirators used an online name generator meant for fiction writers to invent the names of children to include on attendance rosters.

In a separate case, Awad admitted submitting $99,000 in phony reimbursement claims to Medicaid for language interpretation services she never performed.

She agreed to pay restitution and forfeit a Rosemount home and a 2021 Dodge Ram pickup truck she bought with the stolen money.

Awad faces between 3 1/2 and five years in prison.

After a grand jury indicted her for the food fraud, a judge ordered her jailed for violating her release conditions in the Medicaid case.

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