A northwest Missouri farmer will be heading to federal prison after being sentenced for his role in the largest organic fraud scheme in American history.
Federal prosecutors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa have announced that 52-year-old John Burton of Clarksdale was sentenced on Monday to 22 months in federal prison for his role in the $142 million grain fraud scheme, which federal prosecutors describe as the “Field of Schemes”.
Clarksdale is a small farming community of about 260, northeast of St. Joseph.
Burton’s case is related to the late Randy Constant, a prominent Chillicothe businessman and former school board member. The 61-year-old Constant committed suicide in August, after being sentenced to ten years in federal prison. Constant pleaded guilty in December in Iowa to one count of wire fraud.
Longtime Livingston County Coroner Scott Lindley told Missourinet in August that he was called to a Chillicothe home and that he found Constant dead inside his garage from carbon monoxide poisoning. Lindley said the death was ruled a suicide.
As for John Burton, he pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Evidence presented at Monday’s sentencing in Cedar Rapids shows that Burton grew grain that was not organic and sold it to Constant, knowing that Constant would sell the grain as organic.
Burton is the fifth person to be sentenced for a role in the scheme, along with Constant and three Nebraska farmers. Burton was sentenced by U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams, who also fined Burton $100,000 and ordered him to forfeit $1 million in proceeds from the scheme.
Burton is not in custody, at this time. Judge Williams has ordered him to report to prison no earlier than December 16.
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