Part Owner And Founder Of Barnes Farming Corporation Pleads To Structuring Currency Transactions
RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today CARSON BAKER BARNES, 77, of Rocky Mount, North Carolinapled guilty before Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever III to the following offense: Structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements and aiding and abetting, all in violation of Title 31, United States Code, Section, 5324(a)(3) and (d)(2), and Titles 18, United States Code, Section 2.
U.S. Attorney Walker stated, “This prosecution reflects our office’s commitment to prosecute those persons who cooperate with law enforcement in investigations and then subsequently engage in criminal conduct. Cooperation is not a free pass against future misconduct.”
According to the Criminal Information filed on December 4, 2012, and information in the public record, BARNES came to law enforcement’s attention in connection with the on-going crop insurance fraud investigation in the Eastern District of North Carolina. In January 2010, BARNES agreed to provide information to law enforcement. Subsequently, BARNES engaged in the offense conduct charged in the Criminal Information.
Specifically, in 2012, law enforcement learned that BARNES requested, Ham Farms Inc., structure the payment for sweet potato plants purchased by Ham Farms from Barnes. Specifically, BARNES caused Ham Farms Inc. to issue 24 checks totaling $135,395.00 for two sale dates of June 17, 2011, and June 24, 2011. Checks were issued in the name of BARNES and 2 other persons.
Investigation further revealed that at least one of the payees caused some of the checks to be cashed at different branches of the same bank on the same date; other checks were negotiated over the course of three weeks, with the last check being negotiated on or about July 12, 2011.
BARNES is part owner and founder of Barnes Farming Corporation in Spring Hope, North Carolina.
“At this time of year, when hard-working citizens are sitting down to prepare their tax returns, it is especially disappointing to see the overt steps some individuals will take to hide their taxable funds from the government,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Jeannine A. Hammett. “IRS-CI is determined to stop those who try to cheat the government, and the facts outlined in today's plea are strong indicators that we can and will find this fraudulent activity.”
The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and/or a $500,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release. Sentencing is set for the Court’s April 15, 2013, term of court.
The criminal investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General - Investigations, and United States Department of Agriculture – Risk Management Agency - Special Investigations Branch. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan is handling the prosecution on behalf of the Eastern District of North Carolina.