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Federal authorities have charged five individuals, including a man previously acquitted at trial, with conspiring to offer a $120,000 bribe to a Minnesota juror

Andrew Lugor holds a press conference (Via Trevor Baker/Shutterstock)

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI announced charges against five individuals for plotting to bribe a Minnesota juror with $120,000 in cash. The aim was to secure the acquittal of defendants in a significant COVID-19-related fraud case, one of the largest in the country.

According to court documents, the accused engaged in an elaborate plan that included researching the juror’s personal details on social media, surveillance, tracking her daily routines, and even placing a GPS device on her car. They singled out the juror, known as “Juror 52,” believing her to be the youngest and the only person of color on the jury panel.

The group devised a strategy, outlined in court records as a “blueprint,” which included arguments to sway the juror and influence other jurors by suggesting racial bias from prosecutors. One proposed argument stated, “(w)e are immigrants, they don’t respect us.”

Before deliberations began, the juror reported the bribery attempt and was promptly removed from the case.

Andrew Lugor in a news conference (Via Trevor Baker/Shutterstock)

The attempted bribery has drawn renewed attention to the trial involving seven defendants in Minnesota accused of orchestrating a scheme to embezzle over $40 million from a federal program intended to provide meals to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities estimate that the scheme siphoned more than $250 million in federal funds, with only about $50 million recovered to date.

The indictment charges Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shafii Farah, Abdulkarim Shafii Farah, and Ladan Mohamed Ali with conspiracy to bribe a juror, bribery of a juror, and corruptly influencing a juror. Additionally, Abdiaziz Shafii Farah faces an obstruction of justice charge.

Abdiaziz Shafii Farah and Abdimajid Mohamed Nur were recently convicted in the fraud trial, while Said Shafii Farah was acquitted. Abdulkarim Shafii Farah and Ladan Mohamed Ali were not implicated in the case.

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