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Big Lake Woman Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud in $250 Million Feeding Our Future Fraud Scheme

United States Attorney's Office District of Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – A Big Lake woman has pleaded guilty to her role in the $250 million fraud scheme that exploited a federally-funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger. 

According to court documents, Sharon Denise Ross, 53, was the executive director of House of Refuge Twin Cities, a St. Paul-based non-profit which she enrolled in the Federal Child Nutrition Program under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future and Sponsor A. Ross claimed that House of Refuge operated distribution sites at a dozen locations throughout the Twin Cities that served food by a vendor called Brava Café, a restaurant in Minneapolis run by Hanna Marakegn. Between September 2021 through February 2022, Ross falsely claimed to be serving thousands of children each day at her House of Refuge sites. In total, Ross fraudulently claimed to have served nearly 900,000 meals and received approximately $2.4 million in fraudulent Federal Child Nutrition Program funds. Ross distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to family members and used the rest of the money to fund her lifestyle, including to pay for vacations to Florida and Las Vegas, to purchase a suite at a Minnesota Timberwolves game, and to purchase a house in Willernie, Minnesota.


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