Posted March 6, 2014
Two potato growers in North Dakota have been indicted for allegedly conspiring to spoil their stored potato crop, for which they received close to $840,000 in crop insurance and disaster payments, according to an article by The Packer available here.
A federal grand jury returned the indictment against brothers, Aaron Johnson, Derek Johnson, and their company, Johnson Potato Co. They are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States and four counts of making false statements.
The indictment alleges that in 2006, after the Johnson brothers stored their potatoes, “they poured Rid-X on the potatoes and turned large, portable heaters about 80 degrees to ‘accelerate the spoilage process in the potatoes.’” They, then, reported the loss as a natural disaster and collected $680,400 in crop insurance and $159,400 in disaster payments.
Rid-X is designed for dissolving solids in septic systems “and smaller amounts of already frozen or spoiled spuds to the undamaged potatoes in the warehouse,” according to an article by Prairie Business available here.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase, the brothers lied to insurance agents, saying that the crop was lost to “naturally caused diseases” such as “soft rot.” The indictment alleges that the brothers lied about the damage to the potato crop through May 5, 2009.
For more information on crop insurance and disaster assistance, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.