UPDATE: 10/20/18, 10:48 a.m. — Randy Constant, of Chillicothe, appeared in federal court in Iowa Thursday and entered a guilty plea to a single felony wire fraud charge. The court accepted Constant’s plea and released him on own recognizance bond.
Bond conditions stipulate Constant is not to have contact with anyone involved in or victimized by the scheme, which spanned seven years and three states.
As a condition of Constant’s guilty plea, he is expected to forfeit assets including more than $128 million and his interests in as many as 70 farm implements and pieces of heavy machinery.
Constant will be sentenced at a later date. A court date has not been set at this time.
UPDATE: 10/20/18, 10:00 a.m. — Court documents filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa Eastern Division outline a “scheme to defraud that [the] defendant sold or caused the sale of a significant amount of non-organic grain that was fraudulently marketed as organic.”
Prosecutors allege Constant, in association with his companies Jericho Solutions and Organic Land Management, defrauded farmers between 2010 and 2017 with fraudulent products.
Court documents cite one incident, dated February 10, 2017, in which Constant “knowingly and fraudulently” committed wire fraud when a customer in California wired nearly $420,000 to Jericho Solutions’ bank account in Luana, Iowa on the premise of purchasing grain fraudulently marketed as organic.
Constant is expected to enter a guilty plea to a single count of wire fraud Wednesday morning. This story will be updated as further information becomes available.
IOWA CITY, IA (AP) – 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, according to federal prosecutors Wednesday.
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 Thursday.
Organic farmers must go through a roughly three-year process to achieve certified status, which includes reviews by a USDA-accredited agent and on-site inspections.