Minnesota Farmer Sentenced to Prison for USDA Farm Loan Fraud

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

MINNEAPOLIS – A Slayton, Minnesota, man was sentenced to 12 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and $435,517.78 in restitution for converting collateral that secured loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, in October 2015, Mark Alan Engelkes, 54, pledged 15,641 bushels of soybeans as collateral to the U.S Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Commodity Credit Corporation (“CCC”) in order to obtain loan proceeds of nearly $80,000. During the application process for the CCC loan, Engelkes agreed to not move or dispose of the collateral until the loan was paid in full. However, in April 2016, officials from the USDA learned that Engelkes had removed the pledged grain without prior approval and sold it. In addition to the USDA CCC loan, the defendant also defaulted on other farm financing from USDA, resulting in a total loss amount to the government of $435,517.78.

On October 21, 2021, Engelkes pleaded guilty to one count of conversion of USDA CCC crops. He was sentenced on April 1, 2022, by Chief U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Middlecamp and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary Taylor prosecuted the case.