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47 Charged With Stealing $250M From U.S. Pandemic Aid Program

The Justice Department charged 47 people in an alleged scheme to steal more than $250 million from a federal COVID-19 aid program. Sites that served meals were sponsored by nonprofit groups, such as Feeding Our Future. This Minnesota-based program claimed to provide meals to tens of thousands of low-income children who didn't exist, the Wall Street Journal reports. The defendants obtained reimbursements and used the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, jewelry, and international vacations, prosecutors said. “What is spelled out in the charges details a blatant display of greed,” said FBI agent Michael Paul.

Aimee Bock, founder and executive director of Feeding Our Future, faces charges of wire fraud, federal-programs bribery and conspiracy. According to prosecutors, she oversaw the scheme, working with others to submit fraudulent claims. Her attorney, Kenneth Udoibok, denied she had committed the crimes, suggesting instead that she was a victim. "I don’t know where the government is going to be able to prove fraud and conspiracy on the part of Aimee Bock,” Udoibok said. “An indictment by no means is an indication of guilt or innocence, it’s just the beginning of the criminal process. Let’s not all be ready to send her to prison without the benefit of a trial.” Other defendants face charges that include money laundering. Three of them were expected to plead guilty.

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