Rush City Woman Sentenced to Prison for Role in $1.8 Million Scheme Involving Romance Fraud and Federal Pandemic Programs
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Mekfira Hussein and Abduljabar Hussein have been indicted for their roles in the $250 million fraud scheme that exploited a federally-funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
According to court documents, Mekfira Hussein, 38, was the president and owner of Shamsia Hopes, a nonprofit corporation located in Brooklyn Center that operated Federal Child Nutrition Program sites under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future. Mekfira’s husband, Abduljabar Hussein, 42, created a company, Oromia Feeds LLC, that purported to provide food to children at Shamsia Hopes’ sites in Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, and Fridley.
According to court documents, from October 2020 through 2022, Mekfira Hussein claimed that Shamsia Hopes was serving as many as 5,000 children a day, seven days a week. In support of these fraudulent claims, Mekfira Hussein submitted fake meal counts and fake invoices purporting to document the purchase of food. Abduljabar Hussein submitted invoices fraudulently claiming that Oromia Feeds LLC was entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds for providing meals to be served at the Shamsia Hopes sites. Mekfira Hussein diverted at least $5.4 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds to Abduljabar Hussein’s Oromia Feeds LLC, which actually spent only a small fraction of that money on food. Between 2020 and 2021, Shamsia Hopes claimed to have served more than 3.4 million meals to children but, in reality, served only a fraction of the meal amounts claimed. In total, the defendants claimed that Shamsia Hopes was entitled to more than $10.4 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds from Feeding Our Future. Ultimately, Shamsia Hopes received approximately $7.8 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds and Oromia Feeds LLC received nearly $1 million. Together, Mekfira and Abduljabar Hussein used the funds for their own personal benefit, including purchasing luxury vehicles and paying off the mortgage on their Shakopee residence.
According to court documents, Mekfira Hussein and Abduljabar Hussein also paid thousands of dollars in kickbacks to Abdikerm Eidleh, a Feeding Our Future employee, in exchange for Feeding Our Future’s sponsorship of the Husseins companies’ fraudulent participation in the Federal Child Nutrition Program.
Mekfira Hussein, who was initially arrested and charged by criminal complaint on September 19, 2022, and Abduljabar Hussein are charged in a 20-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, federal programs bribery, and money laundering. Abduljabar Hussein made his initial appearance today in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson. Mekfira Hussein will make her initial appearance at a later date.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, IRS – Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew S. Ebert, Joseph H. Thompson, Harry M. Jacobs, Chelsea A. Walcker, and Joseph S. Teirab. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Baune is handling the seizure and forfeiture of assets.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.