Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Five people were charged Wednesday with the attempted bribery of a juror in Minnesota after authorities found on confiscated devices a “chilling” plan to give a juror more than $120,000 and specific instructions on how to convince other jurors to vote to acquit, federal prosecutors said. 

Three of the people charged were defendants in the federal fraud trial that ended in June, while the other two were recruited, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said at a news conference. One of them had been acquitted of all the crimes he had faced.

The unidentified juror who was offered nearly $120,000 in cash in exchange for voting to acquit on the eve of deliberations was targeted because she was young and a person of color, Luger said. 

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, and Said Shafii Farah devised a “blueprint” instructing the juror to convince the rest of the panel to vote to acquit all of the defendants because prosecutors were racist, Luger said.

“We are immigrants. They don’t respect or care about us,” the instruction manual said, according to Luger. “You alone can end this case.”

Attorneys for the three defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Luger said they had “studied” the juror, “followed her, and determined that she would succumb to their scheme.” They “thought carefully” about what they wanted the juror to say to the rest of the jury, and their hopes were to “inflame the jury,” he said.

“This really is an attack on our system of justice,” Luger said. 

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah and Abdimajid Mohamed Nur were among the five of seven defendants found guilty this month of most of the crimes they faced related to a scheme in which they misused millions of dollars meant to feed children during the pandemic.

Defendant Said Shafii Farah
Defendant Said Shafii Farah walks into the U.S. District Court with his attorneys during the first day of jury selection in the first Feeding Our Future case to go to trial in Minneapolis.Leila Navidi / Minneapolis Star Tribune via Reuters file

Said Shafii Farah was one of two defendants acquitted of all the crimes they faced, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors said he provided the bribe funds to the juror and deleted from his phone a since-recovered video of the person delivering the bribe to that juror’s home.

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah organized the alleged conspiracy and had deleted all of his phone contents in court after being instructed to turn it over in its current state, Luger said.

The five people were charged Wednesday with multiple crimes related to bribing a juror. Abdiaziz Shafii Farah faces an additional charge of obstruction of justice for deleting his phone, Luger said.

The juror said a woman delivered a gift bag full of cash and left it with a relative, according to an FBI search warrant affidavit. She said she was not home when the cash was delivered.

The woman who delivered the cash was identified Wednesday as Ladan Ali. Luger said Abdimajid Mohamed Nur recruited her. She followed the juror from the courthouse to the juror’s home and tracked the juror’s movements “day and night,” Luger said.

Abdulkarim Shafii Farah, the brother to both Farah defendants, is accused of surveilling the juror “to learn more about her” and helping Ladan Ali the night she allegedly delivered the bribe.

After the attempted bribe, the juror reported the incident to the court and police and was dismissed from deliberations.

Luger praised her for those actions Wednesday. “She made a difference,” he said.

The federal fraud trial, which began April 22, was the first in an alleged $250 million scheme that prosecutors said was the largest of its kind. The defendants were among 70 people charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota in a massive fraud scheme involving the nonprofit Feeding Our Future.

While the defendants had claimed to have fed millions of children with federal funds, prosecutors had said they used most of the money to buy multiple homes and properties and luxury vehicles. 

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