Missouri man pleads guilty in huge organic fraud scheme
Published: February 8, 2021
Category: Organic News
A $142 million scheme selling non-organic grain as organic ended in five people being ordered to prison.
A sixth man, Steven N. Whiteside of Chillicothe, MO pleaded guilty to falsely signing a document stating he owned or farmed parcels of land he wasn’t connected with. He also claimed in a Land Use History Verification that no synthetic chemicals were used on the property for three years. That document was co-signed by Randy Constant, leader of the scheme, in seeking organic certification for the land. Constant was sentenced in 2019 to 10 years in federal prison, and days later committed suicide.
From 2010 to 2017, Constant sold non-organic grain under the guise of its being certified organic, racking up at least $142,433,475. He told customers the grain was grown on his own certified organic fields in Missouri and Nebraska, when it was actually purchased from other growers, or was sprayed with chemicals, or mixed with non-organic grain. The grain was primarily sold for animal feed (chicken and cattle); affected livestock were then sold as organic meat and derived products were sold as organic—duping thousands of customers who had paid premium prices.
Whiteside was one of Constant’s suppliers of non-organic grain; he also worked at Constant’s fish farm facility.
Source: KQ2 (St. Joseph, MO)
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights February 2021