The Department of Justice announced Tuesday, Sept. 20, federal criminal charges against 47 defendants, that include two Columbia Heights residents and one Fridley resident, for their alleged roles in a $250 million fraud scheme that exploited a federally-funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s indictments describe an egregious plot to steal public funds meant to care for children in need in what amounts to the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme yet,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The defendants went to great lengths to exploit a program designed to feed underserved children in Minnesota amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudulently diverting millions of dollars designated for the program for their own personal gain. These charges send the message that the FBI and our law enforcement partners remain vigilant and will vigorously pursue those who attempt to enrich themselves through fraudulent means.”

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