Officials with the FBI have stated that several nonprofits located in the Minneapolis area have misappropriated several million dollars of COVID-19 relief funds that were intended to be used to help kids.
As reported by the New York Times, "a nonprofit organization called Advance Youth Athletic Development [AYAD] set up what it described as an enormous child care operation in northeast Minneapolis that could prepare 5,000 dinners each weeknight."
The group was given $3.2 million by the state of Minnesota using money that was allocated from federal food programs put in place as relief efforts for the duration of the pandemic.
Back in January, officials with the FBI "carried out a series of predawn raids around the region," stated The Times. The FBI was looking into AYAD, among other groups such as the much larger Feeding Our Future, which was slated with the job of ensuring that the federal funds that were issued were distributed to smaller nonprofits and used for the correct and intended purpose.
As stated in court documents by the FBI, and reviewed by The Times, that is found a "massive fraud scheme" infesting the groups that were supposed to be overseen by Feeding Out Future that forced taxpayers to pay for nonexistent meals and then siphoned off the tens of millions of dollars into their own pockets. As stated by The Times:
In affidavits filed in federal court, the Justice Department said it was investigating at least 15 different feeding operations. Together, the F.B.I. said, these groups — all of which were supposed to be overseen by Feeding Our Future — had received more than $65 million from federal food programs during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Almost none of this money was used to feed children,” the government wrote in one filing. “Instead, conspirators misappropriated the money and used it to purchase real estate, cars and other items.”
When a reporter recently visited the address listed for Advance Youth Athletic Development, there was no sign of a kitchen or a large child care facility. It was a second-story apartment.
One neighbor from the building stated to the news source that she had "never seen any kids going" into the listed apartment for the address, let alone a staggering 5,000 kids. As of writing, there has currently been no one charged in the case.
This case is just the most recent in a vast series of investigations being carried out into allegedly fraudulent use of COVID-19 relief funds. Many of these cases have ended up with charges being laid out of using the funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for things other than payroll. Another example would be the case in which two residents of New Jersey were slammed with charges for allegedly getting almost $3.3 million in relief funds and using them to create fake payroll companies and to buy real estate in Texas. This pair also used the monies to pay for personal expenses.