Judge to Decide Fate of Man Accused of Wiring Cryptocurrency Abroad After $40M Food Program Theft

News | July 9, 2024 By:

On Friday, June 21, 2024, the United States government filed a response opposing defendant Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff’s motion for release pending sentencing in federal court.

Shariff was recently convicted on charges related to a massive scheme to defraud a federal program providing free meals to children. Prosecutors alleged Shariff and his co-conspirators misappropriated over $40 million intended for the child nutrition program by falsely claiming to serve thousands of meals per day at various sites.

At trial, witnesses testified Shariff signed false documents claiming one site served meals to 3,500 children daily. He was also involved in plans to use the stolen funds to build a cultural center. However, Shariff denied any involvement in fraud when taking the stand.

The government’s new filing provided details of Shariff’s involvement, including evidence he sent fraudulent meal counts, rosters, and invoices to the nonprofit administering the program. Prosecutors argued this scheme was “brazen, shameless, and lucrative.”

In its response, the government also revealed shocking new information about an attempt to bribe a juror in Shariff’s trial the night before deliberations. An unknown woman had delivered $120,000 in cash to a relative of one juror, saying more money would be provided if that juror voted to acquit.

In light of this disturbing incident, the court revoked the defendants’ release pending sentencing. However, Shariff now sought to be released again as he awaits his sentence.

Prosecutors vehemently opposed this motion. They argued Shariff failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence he iss not a flight risk or danger. They noted he faces significant prison time and restitution for the sizable fraud.

The filing also provided new details about Shariff’s international ties and finances. Records showed Shariff transferred over $1 million from the fraud proceeds to his personal Coinbase account, where he purchased bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Much of these digital assets were then sent abroad to places like Dubai and Germany.

Prosecutors further revealed text messages discussing Shariff’s plans to invest in real estate developments in Kenya, where he has family. They argued these links demonstrate Shariff has a country he could flee to with ease.

Given the massive fraud scheme, Shariff’s dishonest testimony, the juror bribery attempt, and his ability to potentially flee abroad, prosecutors firmly believe he should remain detained as he awaits sentencing for his role in the extensive child nutrition program fraud.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.