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Three Nebraska farmers plead guilty to fraud involving sales of grain fraudulently marketed as organic

This news story was published on October 17, 2018.
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Federal courthouse, Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS – Three farmers from Nebraska who grew grain that was not organic but who knew that the grain was being marketed and sold as organic pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Tom Brennan, age 70, James Brennan, age 40, and Mike Potter, age 41, all from Overton, Nebraska, were each convicted of one count of wire fraud.

At their respective plea hearings, each man admitted to growing grain between 2010 and 2017 that was not organic.  Each further admitted that they knew the grain was being marketed and sold as organic, even though it was not in fact organically grown.  The charging documents allege that, during the 2010 to 2017 period, each of the three farmers received more than $2.5 million for grain marketed as organic.

Sentencing before United States District Court C.J. Williams will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  All three men were released on bond pending further proceedings.  Each faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, at least a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jacob Schunk and Anthony Morfitt and investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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