Florida Man Charged with Organic Fraud Scheme
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Bradenton, Florida, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for one count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, twelve counts of Wire Fraud, and twenty-nine counts of Money Laundering.
Kent Duane Anderson, age 49, was indicted on February 4, 2020. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Danita Wollmann on February 14, 2020, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in federal prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and up to $4,200 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that between 2012 and 2017, Anderson, aided by others, operated a group of inter-related business entities he formed in South Dakota that claimed to sell organic commodities. Operating as Green Leaf Trading, and other businesses with the Green Leaf name, Anderson purchased thousands of tons of small grain and seed products from non-organic suppliers and re-sold those products to wholesale distributors, brokers, and other buyers at marked-up prices, and falsely represented the products were organic. The Indictment alleges one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 12 counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of using the proceeds of the wire fraud to promote the unlawful activity, and 17 counts of purchases made from criminally derived proceeds.
“Falsely labeling products as organic violates federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “It cheats American consumers and unfairly punishes true organic farmers and producers who follow the rules. We will prosecute this kind of fraud wherever it is found.”
“This investigation and prosecution should send a strong zero-tolerance message to those individuals engaged in the practice of defrauding the National Organic Program,” said Anthony Mohatt, Special Agent-in-Charge, USDA-Office of Inspector General. “It should also serve as a warning to all that participate in the organic supply chain, that fraud will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted by the USDA-OIG, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and all its federal, state, and local partners that have a stake in ensuring that fraud is eliminated from taxpayer funded programs.”
“Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets,” said Karl Stiften, Special Agent-in-Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. “We are committed to 'following the money trail.' We will continue to pursue the evidence wherever it leads, leaving no financial stone unturned.”
The charges are merely accusations and Anderson is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Clapper is prosecuting the case.
Anderson was released on bond pending trial. A trial date has not been set.