A north Missouri businessman who was involved in the largest organic fraud scheme in American history has been sentenced to probation and fined. According to KTTN, federal prosecutors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, sentenced Steven Whiteside of Chilicothe to three years probation and a fine of 45-thousand dollars.
Two other Northwest Missouri men were sentenced to federal prison for their roles in the 142-million dollar grain fraud scheme, which federal prosecutors describe as the “Field of Schemes.”
Steven Whiteside of Chillicothe pleaded guilty in December to signing a document that allowed Randy Constant to sell conventionally raised grain as certified organic and receive a higher premium.
Federal prosecutors say Whiteside received $177-thousand for grain that Constant resold to animal feed producers. They had asked for a one-year term in prison for Whiteside. His defense attorney argued he received a lesser sentence for having a clean record and having family obligations.
Constant, also of Chillicothe, killed himself in 2019, three days after being sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for wire fraud. Four other farmers, one from Missouri and three from Nebraska, received prison sentences for their role in the long-running scheme.
Back in December, the DOJ said that Constant admitted the fraudulent scheme involved at least $142,433,475 in grain sales, and the vast majority of those sales were fraudulent. From 2010 to 2017, Constant misled customers into thinking they were buying certified organic grain when the grain he was selling was not organic. Constant admitted falsely telling customers the grain he sold was grown on his certified organic fields in Nebraska and Missouri when the grain was not organic either because he purchased the grain from other growers, the certified organic fields were sprayed with unauthorized chemicals, or organic grain was mixed with non-organic grain. As part of the plea, Constant also agreed to forfeit $128,190,128 in proceeds from the fraudulent scheme.
Constant’s grain was mostly used as animal feed, primarily for chickens and cattle. That livestock was then sold as organic meat or products from the livestock were sold as organic products. Because of Constant’s fraud, most of the livestock that was fed his grain was not organic, causing millions of consumers to purchase what they thought was organic meat for a premium price across the country.
It is unclear how much of the billions in exorbitantly expensive “organic” food sold every year by the likes of Whole Foods and other overpriced outlets, is just plain, ordinary, off-the-shelf “inorganic” produce with a “ceritifed” sticker slapped on it to part the gullible with their money.