Employee of United States Department of Agriculture Office in Houston County Arrested After Being Charged with Crop Insurance Fraud
Montgomery, Ala. – Today, Anna Marie Knowles, 36, of Headland, Alabama, was arrested on charges of wire fraud, theft of government property, and using a false document in a matter under the jurisdiction of the federal government, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., from the Middle District of Alabama. Knowles was employed in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency office located in Dothan, Alabama.
The charges stem from allegations that Knowles was carrying out a crop insurance fraud scheme. According to the indictment, in 2016, Knowles obtained crop insurance through a federal program, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). NAP is a USDA program that provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planning occur due to a natural disaster. Knowles insured a crop of summer squash that she was planning to grow on land in Houston County, Alabama. Thereafter, Knowles filed a claim through the federal crop insurance program. In that claim, she falsely reported that a drought had caused her to lose the majority of her squash crop. She also submitted forged receipts to establish that she had spent money to purchase squash seed and fertilizer. After filing the claim, Knowles fraudulently obtained $116,500.00 through NAP. The indictment also states that, in her job at the USDA office, Knowles was responsible for administering federal crop insurance programs in Houston County.
If convicted of the most serious charge, Knowles faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ in federal prison. She also faces substantial monetary penalties and restitution.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Ross is prosecuting the case.