“Organic” Grain Seller Scammed Buyers out of $15m Misrepresenting Non-Organic Grain Sales

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Rotary straw walker combine harvester cuts and threshes ripe wheat grain. Platform grain header with thresher reel, cutter bar reaping cereal ears. Gathering crop by agricultural machinery on field

BRADENTON, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Bradenton, Florida, man convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Money Laundering was sentenced on February 22, 2021, by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier.

Kent Duane Anderson, age 50, was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $15,311,927.00, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $200.

Anderson was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 4, 2020.  He pled guilty on November 5, 2020.

The conviction stemmed from incidents between 2012 and 2018, when Anderson owned and operated a business enterprise that exploited the organic grain market.  Anderson purchased thousands of tons of small grain and seed products from non-organic suppliers and then re-sold those products as “organic” to wholesale distributors, brokers, and other buyers at marked-up prices.  Those buyers, who believed the grain sold them to be organic, were defrauded.

Anderson carried out his fraud through a group of inter-related business entities formed in South Dakota, which he directed and controlled.  These business entities included the Bar Two Bar Ranch and Green Leaf Resources Inc., and four other businesses with the Green Leaf name.

Much of Anderson’s business sales of the misrepresented products occurred through emails, phone calls, and electronically transmitted invoices.  The sales transactions often originated in Florida, where Anderson’s business entities operated, with buyers located in other states, including, Minnesota and Illinois, and thus, caused electronic wire communications between those states.  Other interstate electronic wire transmissions occurred when his business entities received payment via electronic transfer of funds.  Some of those transactions involved the electronic transfer of money from purchasers with bank accounts in South Dakota.

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“This investigation and prosecution should send a strong zero-tolerance message to those individuals engaged in the practice of defrauding the National Organic Program,” said Anthony Mohatt, Special Agent-in-Charge, USDA-Office of Inspector General. “It should also serve as a warning to all that participate in the organic supply chain, that fraud will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted by the USDA-OIG, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and all its federal, state, and local partners that have a stake in ensuring that fraud is eliminated from taxpayer funded programs.”

“Over the course of 5 years, Mr. Anderson engaged in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme where he falsely labeled products as organic products unbeknownst to consumers and USDA inspectors,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge David Talcott. “Individuals who commit fraud with this degree of dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. IRS Criminal Investigation along with the United States Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners remain vigilant in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting those individuals who seek to willfully defraud the American consumers.”

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Clapper prosecuted the case.

Anderson has been allowed to self-report to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service by March 15, 2021.