CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA, U.S. – The organic grain fraud scandal continues as a fifth farmer, John Burton of Clarksdale, Missouri, U.S., plead guilty on May 10 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa, Burton 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 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, the U.S. Attorney’s office of Northern District Iowa said three farmers from Nebraska previously pled guilty to fraud involving the sale of grain fraudulently marketed as organic – Tom Brennan; James Brennan; and Mike Potter – all from Overton, Nebraska.
Sentencing for Constant, Brennan, Brennan, and 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.