A Missouri farmer and businessman ripped off consumers nationwide by falsely marketing more than $140 million worth of corn, soybeans and wheat as certified organic grains, federal prosecutors said [December 19].
The long-running fraud scheme outlined in court documents by prosecutors in Iowa is one of the largest uncovered in the fast-growing organic farming industry. The victims included food companies and their customers who paid higher prices because they thought they were buying grains that had been grown using environmentally sustainable practices.
The alleged leader of the scheme was identified as Randy Constant of Chillicothe, Missouri, who was charged with one count of wire fraud. He is expected to plead guilty during a hearing that is scheduled at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on [December 20] …. Three Nebraska farmers who sold their crops to Constant pleaded guilty in October to their roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing.
Constant sold more than $142.4 million worth of falsely marketed organic grain to at least 10 customers nationwide between 2010 and mid-2017, when he voluntarily surrendered a certificate to operate in the USDA’s National Organic Program ….
“The number of years they were able to operate at that scale is a betrayal to honest, ethical organic practitioners,” said [Mark] Kastel, the co-founder of the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, a policy research group …. “It’s a gross betrayal of consumer trust.”
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