A woman tries to marry a boy in Minn. suitcase with bag carrying $120,000

The day before a multimillion-dollar fraud trial ended, a woman drove to the home of one of the jurors, who was not there at the time, prosecutors said . When the juror’s parent opened the door, the woman allegedly handed them a gift bag and left with a message: “Tell her there will be another bag for her if she votes to accept.” »

Inside the white bag splashed with butterflies and flowers were stacks of $100, $50 and $20 bills totaling $120,000, according to an FBI affidavit.

The juror, a 23-year-old woman, immediately called the police when she returned home.

Sunday night’s bribery attempt became the latest twist in a legal saga involving 70 defendants charged in a massive pandemic fraud scheme that bilked the government out of some $250 million. According to the Department of Justice, a network of individuals and organizations linked to Minnesota nonprofits Feeding Our Future and Partners in Quality Care “exploited” a federal program intended to feed children in need during the global health crisis – instead spend the funds on luxury cars, homes, vacations, jewelry and properties abroad.

Feeding Our Future and Partners in Quality Care did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.

Among the dozens of people charged in what prosecutors considered a “brazen scheme of staggering proportions,” at least 18 pleaded guilty. Over the past six weeks, a group of seven people became the first to stand trial in the case. They face a total of 41 charges, including wire fraud, bribery and money laundering.

According to court records, the defendants are all linked to food vendors and distribution sites that received federal funds from the nonprofits to provide ready-to-eat meals to children – funding some $41 million. dollars for 18 million meals. Yet prosecutors say the defendants served far less food than they reported — some, if at all. Instead, they allegedly falsified invoices and fabricated lists of invented children’s names to siphon off funds for personal expenses.

Lawyers for the defendants, however, argued in court that their clients provided meals to thousands of people in need during the coronavirus pandemic and spent the funds to cover necessary business expenses. They blame the nonprofits that oversaw the sellers. Throughout the trial, the defense also attempted to discredit a government witness who participated in the scheme and cooperated with investigators in hopes of obtaining a more lenient sentence.

“When you paint with a very broad brush, you’re able to fill in … some inadequacies,” defense attorney Patrick Cotter said, according to a Star Tribune report.

On Monday, the alleged attempt at jury tampering was a bombshell in a trial that was expected to end with closing arguments and head into deliberations.

“This is outrageous behavior,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Thompson said in court, WFLA reported. “That’s what happens in mafia movies.”

Defense attorney Andrew Birrell told the judge that the claim that the bag of cash was given to the juror was “a disturbing and upsetting accusation,” the station reported.

The allegation prompted U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel to order the detention of all seven defendants. Their phones were confiscated and are in FBI custody.

The identity of the woman who allegedly brought the bag to the juror’s home remains unknown. The FBI is currently investigating. Bribery and jury tampering are crimes.

“It is very likely that someone with access to the juror’s personal information conspired, at a minimum, with the woman who paid the $120,000 bribe,” an FBI agent wrote in a statement under oath, adding that the woman knew the juror’s name. (The identities of the jurors are known only to prosecutors, defense attorneys and the defendants.)

Meanwhile, the jury has been sequestered while deliberations continue.

On Tuesday, Brasel announced that a second junior had been fired and replaced with a substitute after the 25-year-old had a call with a family member, who exposed the corruption situation.

According to KARE11, when the woman told her relative that the jury was isolated, the relative asked, “Was it because of the bribe?”

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