5 indicted on federal charges for trying to bribe a juror with bag full of cash, prosecutors say

Federal charges have been filed against five people linked to a recent attempt to bribe a juror to help secure a not guilty verdict in a trial over a $250 million fraud scheme that exploited a federally funded child nutrition program, the US attorney in Minnesota announced in a news conference Wednesday.

The juror, identified only as “Juror 52,” immediately called 911 to report the attempt after a gift bag containing $120,000 in cash was dropped off at her front door earlier this month, FBI Special Agent Travis Wilmer said in an affidavit filed June 3 in federal court.

Three of those charged this week, Abdimajid Nur, Abdiaziz Farah and Said Farah, were defendants in the fraud trial connected to Feeding Our Future, a nonprofit organization prosecutors say was used to skim nearly $250 million from federal child nutrition programs. Juror 52, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, was dismissed from the case and replaced with an alternate.

Nur and Abdiaziz Farah were convicted of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, conspriacy and other crimes, while Said Farah was acquitted, according to a Justice Department news release and agency spokesperson Tasha Zerna.

Court documents state Juror 52 was targeted “because she was the youngest juror and they believed her to be the only juror of color.”

Included with the alleged bribery money was a document described by US Attorney Andrew Luger as “chilling.”

The document laid out instructions for the juror to follow with arguments for her to use to sway other jurors, the indictment states. Those arguments focus on an assertion of prejudice by the government based on the defendants’ immigration status and race, according to the indictment.

Luger said the note inside the gift bag also included a clear message to the juror that read, “You alone can end this case.”

Nur recruited Ladan Ali, a woman who “attempted to follow” the juror home after the first day of closing arguments and two days later dropped off the gift bag containing the bribery money at the juror’s house and gave it to a relative, the indictment says. Said Farah allegedly provided the funds.

Another defendant, Abdulkarim Farah, accompanied Ali and videotaped her dropping off the money, according to the indictment. Abdiaziz Farah, Said Farah and Abdulkarim Farah are brothers.

CNN has reached out to attorneys for all five defendants for comment. The charges they face include bribery of a juror, conspiracy to bribe a juror and corruptly influencing a juror.

When the alleged bribery attempt was announced in court, all defendants in the trial were ordered to turn their phones in to authorities. Abdiaziz Farah engaged a factory reset in an attempt to wipe all the data from his device, according to court documents. He also faces a count of obstruction of justice connected to that allegation.

Recovered videos from the phones of the defendants include recordings of the bribe money being dropped off at Juror 52’s home, according to the indictment. “They took the video to ensure that the money was delivered and as evidence to show Juror 52’s complicity if she accepted the bribe but did not follow through with a not guilty verdict,” the indictment states.

Days later, a search warrant was served at Abdiaziz Farah’s home, and among the items found by investigators was a list of all the jurors’ names hidden inside a water bottle, a DOJ warrant shows.

Fingerprints from the bag of money led investigators to Ladan Ali, Luger said. During Wednesday’s news conference, Luger shared surveillance images he says show Ali in a rental car following Juror 52 home from court.

“This is more than just a mob movie. This is a chilling attack on our system of justice,” he added. “They studied her, followed her and determined that she would succumb to their scheme. The fact that they failed does not lessen the magnitude of what they tried to do,” said Luger. “Fortunately for all of us, Juror 52 could not be bought, and she terminated their scheme.”

“The sophistication and intentionality of this plot cannot be overstated,” said Luger, adding Juror 52’s movements were tracked night and day.

The three Farah brothers are scheduled to make their initial appearances on the charges in federal court Thursday afternoon. Ladan Ali is expected to turn herself in later this week, and Abdimajid Nur is set to appear in court next week, according to Zerna.

CNN’s Cindy Von Quednow contributed to this report.

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