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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 21, 2018

Former Kossuth County Farmer Sentenced to a Year in Federal Prison for Lying to Bank to Secure a Farm Loan and Credit

Defaulted on Nearly $900,000 in Loans Received from His Bank

A former farmer who lied to his bank about how much land he was farming and how much crop he had in storage in order to secure a loan and a line of credit was sentenced September 20, 2018, to a year in federal prison.

Mark Laubenthal, age 36, from Bancroft, Iowa, received the prison term after a March 30, 2018 guilty plea to one count of making a false statement to a bank.

In a plea agreement, Laubenthal admitted he was farming land in north Iowa in 2015.  He received a farm operating loan worth $160,000 and a line of credit worth $750,000 from a bank in the area.  In order to get the loan and line of credit, Laubenthal had to fill out a financial statement listing his assets.  Laubenthal admitted he provided false information to the bank on the financial statement he completed.  Laubenthal told the bank he had $432,040 of crops in storage, when he actually had a substantially lower amount of crops in storage.  In the plea agreement, Laubenthal also admitted he made other false statements to the bank over the course of 2015, including telling the bank he was farming 1,100 acres of land when he was only farming less than 300 acres and that he had a number of pieces of farm equipment that he did not actually have or own.

Evidence at sentencing showed that when Laubenthal failed to make payments on the loans, the bank declared him to be in default in 2016.  During mediation meetings with the bank, Laubenthal made additional false statements.  He told the bank that he had 120,000 bushels of corn in storage and had planted nearly 300 acres of crops for 2016.  In fact, at the time he made those statements, Laubenthal had no crop in storage and had not planted any crops for 2016.  Laubenthal defaulted on the entirety of the $160,000 loan and on $731,401.58 from the line of credit.  

Laubenthal was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by Chief United States District Court Leonard T. Strand.  Laubenthal was sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison.  He was ordered to make $1,044,881.82 in restitution to the victim bank.  He must also serve a two-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Laubenthal was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal on October 11, 2018.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Morfitt and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General. 

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 18-cr-3007.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated September 21, 2018