Crime, Law and Justice

‘Rgian Pumqr’ and ‘Jeffrey Dharmer’ among names on Feeding Our Future meal lists

A courtroom sketch
The Feeding our Future trial is now in its fourth week,
Cedric Hohnstadt

A prosecutor and an investigator on Monday guided jurors in the Feeding Our Future trial through dozens of lists of names that the defendants allegedly used to fraudulently claim reimbursement from taxpayer-funded child nutrition programs. 

Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Ebert, IRS criminal investigator Joshua Parks testified that some of the names were real and appeared in the enrollment records of 20 Minnesota school districts, but the vast majority were not, including three boys named John Doe, Britishy Melony, Serious Problem, Getsaname Hester, and a 10-year-old named Jeffrey Dharmer.

“Have you in your life ever met anyone named Friday Donations?” Ebert asked.

“I have not,” Parks replied. 

Parks testified that “Friday Donations” appeared in six monthly reimbursement requests submitted throughout 2021 for meals served at a Bloomington mosque.  

The names were allegedly found on lists, including one spreadsheet titled “all names mines (sic) the repetitive ones” that federal agents recovered in 2022 after securing warrants to search the defendants’ email accounts. 

“The files are essentially exact copies of one another except for the date range,” Parks said. “It appears the list was reused week after week, month after month here.”

The agent noted in his testimony earlier in the day that no child could be expected to have such a consistent attendance record.  

Parks said identical names appeared over and over, in many cases as part of payment claims for meals served simultaneously at distribution sites miles apart. He said that the same 122 children were listed in reimbursement requests for meals served in April 2021 at five sites in Bloomington, Minneapolis, and Owatonna. 

Parks, who created charts for jurors that include a detailed breakdown of where the most often-used names appeared, said he came up short when trying to determine if the name “Rgian Pumqr” may have been the misspelled name of a real child. 

“Did you find that name anywhere in 193,000 child names from Minnesota school districts?” Ebert asked. 

“I did not, and I also tried to think of what this name should have been. For example I ran ‘Reagan Pumper,’ and some other names similar and I was not able to find a match,” Parks replied.

Defense attorneys opted not to cross examine Parks but have said throughout the trial and in opening statements that their clients served “real food to real kids.”

The trial of seven people with ties to a small Shakopee restaurant is in its fourth week of testimony.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis said that the defendants stole $47 million from public coffers by taking advantage of pandemic-era rule changes that allowed restaurants to take part in the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program and falsely claiming to have served 18 million meals to schoolchildren.  

Abdiaziz S. Farah, 35, and Mohamed J. Ismail, 51, the owners of Empire Cuisine and Market, allegedly established meal distribution sites in 2020 before operating as a food vendor for meal sites that others operated.

Prosecutors said the men conspired with their co-defendants to falsify meal counts and invoices and submitted those documents to Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition, two Twin Cities nonprofits that sponsored the meal sites. 

Feeding Our Future founder Aimee Bock, 43, was indicted separately in 2022 and has pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud and bribery. 

An FBI forensic accountant is expected to testify Tuesday. 

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