CEDAR RAPIDS – A Missouri man who conspired with others to sell grain fraudulently marketed as organic pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
John Burton, age 52, from Clarksdale, Missouri, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of the conspiracy, he admitted that grain grown on non-organic fields was marketed and sold as organic and that unapproved substances were used on fields certified as organic.
Burton’s plea is related to Randy Constant’s plea from December 20, 2018, when Constant, age 61, from Chillicothe, Missouri, pled guilty to an organic grain fraud scheme involving at least $142 million in grain sales with the vast majority of those sales being fraudulent. Constant made many of those sales through a brokerage that he owned and operated out of Ossian, Iowa, known as Jericho Solutions. In other related matters three farmers from Nebraska previously pled guilty to fraud involving the sale of grain fraudulently marketed as organic – Tom Brennan, age 70; James Brennan, age 40; and Mike Potter, age 41 – all from Overton, Nebraska.
Sentencing for Randy Constant, Tom Brennan, James Brennan, and Mike Potter is scheduled for August 16, 2019, before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams, at the United States Courthouse in Cedar Rapids. Burton’s sentencing will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Burton remains free on bond previously set. Burton faces a possible maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a fine of at least $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jake Schunk and Anthony Morfitt and investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.