Posted December 15, 2014
A federal jury found potato farmers Aaron and Derek Johnson guilty of crop insurance fraud, according to an AgWeek article available here. Inforum also published an article available hereand Valley News Live here.
The jury unanimously found the Johnson brothers guilty of intentionally destroying part of their crops to receive unfair gains in crop insurance and federal disaster payments. Both brothers were convicted of conspiracy and false statements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency. Aaron Johnson was also found guilty of lying to the USDA Farm Service Agency.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 9 at 1:30 p.m. in Fargo, North Dakota, and both brothers have been released, according to Inforum.
The brothers were accused of damaging potatoes from 2002 to 2010, collecting almost $2 million in crop insurance and federal disaster payments. The testimonies centered around allegations that the Johnsons ruined their 2006 crop by adding chemicals such as Rid-X, as well as heat, water, and frozen potatoes to their stored potatoes.
The Johnsons were charged individually and have denied all charges.
The Johnsons and their farming operations gained millions of dollars in federal crop insurance indemnities, subsidized crop insurance premiums, and federal disaster benefits, according to Valley News Live.
The brothers face up to 30 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines, restitution, and criminal forfeiture.
For more information on crop insurance programs, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.