Nash County Farmer Sentenced In Federal Crop Insurance Fraud Scheme
RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court on April 6, 2015 CLAY TAYLOR STRICKLAND, 74, of Spring Hope, North Carolina, was sentenced by Chief United State District Judge James C. Dever III, to 6 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. STRICKLAND was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $233,559 to the United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency and $64,856 to the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. STRICKLAND was also fined $10,000. STRICKLAND previously pled guilty to conspiring to make false statements, to make material false statements, to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and to structuring transactions all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 and aiding and abetting the making of false statement in connection with the Federal Crop Insurance Program, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1014.
Mr. Walker stated, “As a farmer, STRICKLAND understood the importance of the federal crop insurance program as a safety net to the community in times of disaster and yet, he stole from that same program. The sentence imposed today reflects the seriousness of his offense and should serve as a deterrent for others.”
The Criminal Information, filed on October 2, 2014, alleges that STRICKLAND was engaged in the business of farming, doing business as Clay T Strickland Farms, Inc. The Information goes on to allege that STRICKLAND filed a false crop insurance claim in that he hid tobacco production from USDA by selling tobacco for cash to a tobacco warehouseman who then sold the tobacco in nominee names. STRICKLAND profited under the scheme because he was paid twice for each pound of tobacco; once through the false crop insurance claim and also from the sale of the “hidden” tobacco for cash. To conceal the conspiracy, STRICKLAND made false statements to law enforcement officers during the investigation.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture - Office of Inspector General, Investigations; the United States Department of Agriculture - Risk Management Agency, Special Investigations Branch, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan served as prosecutor for the government.