Four people have been sentenced in what the federal government calls the largest organic fraud case in U.S. history. All of the farmers previously pled guilty to the scheme, which brought in millions of dollars.
The men, three from Nebraska and one from Missouri, were all sentenced Aug. 16 in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Between 2010 and 2017, farmers Tom Brennan, James Brennan and Mike Potter, all from near Overton, Nebraska, supplied millions of bushels of corn, wheat and soybeans grain to a Chillicothe, Missouri, farmer. That man, Randy Constant, then falsely sold the grain to livestock producers, telling them it was certified organic.
The government said Constant made more than $140 million from the scheme, while the other farmers took home about $10 million.
U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a news release that the sentences serve as a warning to those looking to commit similar crimes.
“The government has zero tolerance for individuals who might seek to defraud American consumers by criminally manipulating National Organic Program standards,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony Mohatt, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General.
Constant was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, but killed himself just days after the sentencing, according to the Livingston County, Missouri, coroner. The three men from Nebraska got anywhere from three months to two years.
Harvest Public Media did not have contact information for the farmers' attorneys to seek comment.
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