Saint Paul (Caasimada Online) – The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) revoked the Lakes Adult Day Center licenses in Minneapolis and the Forever Friendship Adult Day Center in St. Paul in late January after their owners were implicated in a federal nutrition fraud scheme.
The DHS paid out approximately $22 million to the 11 centers involved in the scheme over the past five years.
Liban Alishire, who controlled the Lakes Adult Day Center, has admitted to pocketing over $700,000 as part of the scheme. Alishire and others are accused of overstating the number of underprivileged children served by his Lake Street Kitchen and Community Enhancement Services and sites, which were sponsored by Feeding Our Future.
This organization allegedly stole $250 million from federal programs to feed poor children, programs overseen by the state Department of Education.
Mekfira and Abduljabar Hussein, who controlled the Forever Friendship Adult Day Center, have been indicted for falsely claiming that their nonprofit, Shamsia Hopes, could provide daily meals for up to 5,000 children.
The Husseins obtained around $8 million from the federal government through Feeding Our Future and used most of these funds for personal purposes, such as paying off their mortgage.
DHS barred an undisclosed number of conspirators from working for DHS-funded organizations for 15 years based on information obtained from FBI search warrants and other publicly available documents.
DHS has not yet completed its investigation into all 50 people charged in the meals fraud probe. However, it has stated that it has no authority to halt payments or exclude individuals from its programs based solely on fraud allegations made by other government agencies.
DHS issued a revocation order for the Lakes Adult Day Center due to four previous enforcement actions and 35 licensing infractions, including failing to offer necessary adult daycare services.
An inspection revealed that participants frequently spent extended periods of time lying on couches, watching television, and socializing with little involvement from staff.
In early 2022, DHS informed Alishire that Lakes’ license was given a two-year conditional status following the documentation of 13 violations by inspectors.
In the case of Forever Friendship, state officials disqualified two “controlling individuals” due to the risks they posed to the program and a licensing visit that found five violations.
The revocation order against Forever Friendship cited the risks posed by the controlling individuals who have been implicated in the federal nutrition fraud scheme.
DHS is proposing changes to current legislation to allow for a quicker response in the future when alerted to fraud in programs administered by other state or federal agencies.
The department declined to identify the daycare workers barred from working for DHS-funded organizations, citing state laws prohibiting the provision of information about administrative investigations.
The revocation of the licenses of the Lakes Adult Day Center and the Forever Friendship Adult Day Center serves as a warning to others involved in the federal nutrition fraud scheme and demonstrates the DHS’s commitment to upholding the integrity of its programs and ensuring that public funds are used appropriately.
The DHS is continuing its investigation into the remaining individuals implicated in the scheme and is working to hold those who committed fraud accountable.