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Press Release

Cottonwood County Farmer Pleads Guilty in $19 Million Organic Grain Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota

ST PAUL, Minn. – A Cottonwood County man has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, between 2013 and 2021, James Clayton Wolf, 65, a certified organic farmer, engaged in a scheme to defraud grain purchasers by selling them non-GMO grains falsely represented as organic. In his guilty plea, Wolf admitted purchasing conventionally farmed grains from a supplier and reselling the grains labelled as organic. The scheme netted profits of more than $19.6 million, which Wolf used to purchase real estate, vehicles and farm equipment, and investments. As part of the agreement, Wolf will forfeit all the proceeds of the fraud.

Wolf pleaded guilty earlier today before U.S. District Judge Judge Katherine M. Menendez to one count of wire fraud. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General (USDA-OIG), the FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service, with assistance from the Cottonwood County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Lewis, Craig Baune, and Quinn Askew are prosecuting the case.

Updated May 12, 2023

Financial Fraud