Wallingford Woman Indicted For Crop Insurance Fraud
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Wallingford, Ky. woman was indicted today for engaging in crop insurance fraud.
A federal grand jury in Lexington returned an indictment charging 62-year-old Debra Muse with one count of conspiring to violate federal law and 27 counts of making false statements to influence the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (“FCIC”) and companies the FCIC reinsures.
The indictment alleges that Muse, a crop insurance agent that contracted with Rural Community Insurance Services (“RCIS”), agreed with tobacco farmers to make false statements and reports to the FCIC and companies the FCIC reinsures, in order to submit false claims for crop insurance indemnity payments. These false documents included false sales bills from Clays Tobacco Warehouse, where Muse also worked seasonally, and falsified tobacco grading reports. According to the indictment, for crop year 2014, the FCIC, through RCIS, paid out nearly $170,000 in indemnity payments to Muse’s clients, as a result of these false claims for crop damage that her clients’ tobacco crop did not suffer in the way reported to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Carlton S. Shier, IV, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General; Amy Hess, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Tracey D. Montano, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations; and Dwayne Depp, Director, Kentucky Department of Insurance Fraud Investigation Division, jointly announced the indictment.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and Kentucky Department of Insurance. The indictment was presented to the grand jury by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn M. Anderson and Erin M. Roth.
A date for Muse to appear in court has not yet been scheduled. For the conspiracy charge, Muse faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. For each charge of making false statements to the FCIC, she faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000. However, any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by the Court, after its consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes.
Any indictment is an accusation only. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.