Farmers Sentenced in Historic Organic Fraud Case

Aug. 19, 2019, 4:17 p.m. ·

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Four Midwestern farmers were sentenced last week on charges related to what prosecutors say is the largest organic fraud case in U.S. history.

Between 2010 and 2017, three Nebraska men--Tom Brennan, James Brennan and Mike Potter--supplied millions of bushels of grain to a Missouri farmer. The three men are all from near Overton, Nebraska.

That farmer, Randy Constant, then falsely sold the grain to livestock producers, telling them it was certified organic feed.

Constant reportedly made over $140 million from the fraud, while the other farmers took home about $10 million. Officials say the sentences serve as a warning to those looking to commit similar crimes.

“This prosecution places would-be fraudsters on notice. The government has zero tolerance for individuals who might seek to defraud American consumers by criminally manipulating National Organic Program standards,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Anthony Mohatt of the US Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General.

"USDA's Office of Inspector General is committed to ensuring fraud is eliminated from the National Organic Program so that consumers can have confidence in the USDA organic products they put on the table," Mohatt added.

Constant was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, while the other farmers got anywhere from three months to two years.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Livingston County, Missouri coroner Scott Lindsay confirmed Randy Constant has died by suicide just days after the sentencing and weeks before he was to report to federal prison to begin serving a 10-year term.