CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA, U.S. — Randy Constant, former owner of organic grain brokerage Jericho Solutions, was convicted of one count of wire fraud in a federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., on Dec. 20. Constant pled guilty to fraudulently selling tens of millions of dollars’ worth of non-organic grain as though it was organic.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, Constant admitted the fraudulent scheme involved at least $142.4 million in grain sales, with the vast majority of the sales being fraudulent. He told the court that from 2010 to 2017 he misled customers into thinking they were buying certified organic grain when the grain he was selling was not organic.
Constant also admitted that he falsely told customers that the grain he sold was grown on his certified organic fields in Nebraska and Missouri. In reality, the grain was not organic and either had been purchased from other growers, the certified organic fields had been sprayed with unauthorized substances, or organic grain was mixed with non-organic grain.
As part of the plea deal, Constant agreed to forfeit $128.2 million in proceeds from the fraudulent scheme.
Constant 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.
In a related matter, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa said three farmers from Nebraska previously pled guilty to fraud involving sales of grain they grew that was fraudulently marketed as organic. Tom Brennan, James Brennan and Mike Potter on Oct. 12 were convicted of one count of wire fraud.
The three men each admitted to growing grain between 2010 and 2017 that was not organic, and further admitted that they knew the grain was being marketed and sold as organic.