GREENVILLE, MISSISSIPPI, US — A federal grand jury in Mississippi has indicted John R. Coleman, former chief executive officer of Express Grain Terminals, LLC, on federal and state criminal charges more than a year after the company declared bankruptcy, the Associated Press reported, citing prosecutors.
Coleman was indicted on federal charges of defrauding farmers, banks and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture, US Attorney Clay Joyner and Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said. Fitch also said a Leflore County, Mississippi, grand jury has indicted Coleman on five counts of making false representations to defraud government and one count of false pretenses.
Coleman made his initial federal court appearance Dec. 6. If convicted on the federal charges, Coleman would face up to 180 years in prison.
Federal court documents said Coleman altered Express Grain’s audited financial statements to receive a state warehouse license and lied about the amount of debt he owed on corn, wheat, soybeans or other crops held at the facility in Greenwood, Mississippi, US.
The federal indictment said farmers delivered grain to Express Grain throughout the 2021 harvest season but did not receive payment before the company declared bankruptcy on Sept. 29, 2021.
Farmers who chose to participate in a legal settlement of Express Grain’s property auction proceeds finalized earlier this year were able to claim a share of $9 million.