Sully County Men Sentenced for Crop Insurance Fraud
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota
PIERRE - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange, U.S. District Court, has sentenced two Sully County, South Dakota, men convicted of False Statements in Connection with Federal Crop Insurance. The sentencing took place on January 30, 2023.
James Garrett, age 68, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,045,544 in restitution to the United States. Levi Garrett, age 44, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $279,396 in restitution to the United States.
The defendants were indicted for several counts of False Statement in Connection with Federal Crop Insurance by a federal grand jury in October of 2021. A jury convicted James Garrett of two counts and Levi Garrett of one count following a six-day trial on October 31, 2022.
James Garrett and his son Levi Garrett operated a family farm and ranch in Sully County. In 2018, the defendants falsely certified to a crop insurance company that they planted 2,200 total acres of sunflowers. In fact, the defendants did not plant any sunflowers, and they wrongfully received indemnity from the insurance company as if their entire crop failed. In 2019, James Garrett falsely certified he planted 47.5 acres of corn as part of a larger claim. In fact, no corn was planted, and he wrongfully received indemnity from the insurance company that year. The defendants fraudulently obtained over $1.3 million in total benefits from their crimes.
“The federal crop insurance program is a vital risk management tool designed to help honest farmers sustain their agricultural productions under difficult circumstances. James and Levi Garrett unlawfully exploited that program and lined their pockets at the expense of taxpayers,” said U.S. Attorney Ramsdell. “Our office is committed to prosecuting any South Dakotan who dishonestly takes advantage of government programs, and we do so in partnership with hard-working investigators like those individuals at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who pursued this case.”
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Risk Management Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cameron J. Cook and Alexis A. Warner prosecuted the case.
The defendants were ordered to report to their prison facility as designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Updated January 31, 2023