News and Press Releases

Watertown Wool and Mohair Producers Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the Government with Respect to Claims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 28, 2011
Contact: Mark E. Salter
Assistant United States Attorney
605-357-2360

US Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Reena Slominski, age 59, and Howard "Jack" Aleff, age 62, of Watertown, appeared before US District Judge Charles B. Kornmann on December 27, 2011, and pled guilty to an indictment that charged them with Conspiracy to Defraud the Government with Respect to Claims. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 provides marketing assistance, loans and loan deficiency payments for wool and mohair to eligible producers who produce and shear wool and mohair from live sheep and goats. The Loan Deficiency Payment Program helps stabilize America's wool and mohair industry and insures the well-being of agriculture in the United States. Payments are made to producers who were eligible to receive a loan from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) but agreed to forego the loan in return for a payment on the eligible wool, mohair or unshorn pelt.

Between April 2004 and August 2010, Howard “Jack” Aleff and Reena L. Slominski conspired with each other to defraud the Commodity Credit Corporation by producing and submitting false applications for loan deficiency payments. Slominski and Aleff prepared and submitted 132 false applications for loan deficiency payments for sheep that were never sheared. The total amount received as a result of the false applications was $303,890.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture - Office of Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Thomas J. Wright.

A presentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing date was set for April 9, 2012. The defendants were released on bond pending sentencing.

 

 

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