News and Press Releases

Insurance agent pleads guilty to multi-million dollar crop fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2012

Raleigh, North Carolina - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today WILLIAM LARRY ROGERS, 68, of Mebane, North Carolina, pled guilty before Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever III to conspiracy to make false statements, to make material false statements, to commit mail and wire fraud, and to obstruction of justice, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section, 371; and to making false statements to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and aiding and abetting the same, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1014 and 2. 

U.S. Attorney Walker stated, "The filing of false and fraudulent federal crop insurance claims for losses not suffered provides the dishonest farmer with an unfair economic advantage over our honest farmers, and threatens the viability of a program designed to be a safety net in times of disasters, such as drought and floods."

According to the Criminal Information filed on September 4, 2012, and information presented in open court, ROGERS owned and operated W.L. Rogers Farm, LLC, and also worked as an insurance agent with Triangle Insurance Group, Inc.  As an insurance agent, ROGERS sold, among other things, multi-peril crop insurance and private crop-hail policies for various crops including tobacco.   As a result of his agency relationship with insurance companies servicing federal crop insurance policies, ROGERS was required to submit annual conflict of interest forms.

From September 2005 through September 2011, ROGERS conspired with others to commit fraud upon the federal crop insurance program and private crop hail programs, and to obstruct the federal investigation of the fraud.   It was the purpose of the conspiracy to profit through the filing of false, ficitious, and fraudulent federal crop insurance claims and private crop hail claims, the sale of unreported tobacco, and to hide the criminal procceds through payments in nominee names.

Specifically, ROGERS, on behalf of W.L. Rogers Farms, LLC, entered into a contract with Phillip Morris for the sale of tobacco each year from 2005 through 2011.  ROGERS thereafter would take tobacco production from co-conspiring farmers and sell that tobacco on the W.L. Rogers Farms, LLC contract.  As a result, the farmers were able to hide some or all of their tobacco production.  Thereafter, the farmers, with the knowledge and assistance of ROGERS, filed false crop insurance claims.

Annually from October 2005, through August 2010 on required conflict of interest forms, ROGERS denied and failed to disclose business relationships with his insureds, including that he was, among other things, (1) buying and selling tobacco with and through his insureds; (2) selling gas and fertilizer to his insureds; (3) loaning equipment to his insureds; and (4) employing an insured as contract employees.

During the criminal investigation, ROGERS told at least one of his insureds to lie to federal investigators.  Other conspiring farmers also provided false and misleading information to law enforcement officers.

As a result of the offense conduct, ROGERS caused to be paid a total of $7,359,197 worth of federal corp insurance indementity payments to his insureds, and a total of $1,022,181 worth of crop hail indemnity payments to his insureds. 

The criminal investigation of this case was conducted by United States Department of Agriculture – Office of the 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.

 

 

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