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Press Release

Two Western Kentucky Men Plead Guilty in Federal Court to Grain Elevator Scheme

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

PADUCAH, KY – In the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division, Gerald Kent Kingston, 61, of Elkton, KY and Bobby Joe Merrick, 72, of Princeton, KY pled guilty yesterday to stealing over $350,000 from a Lyon County, KY grain elevator company.

According to court documents, Kingston was formerly employed as manager at Gavilon Grain which operates a grain elevator in Eddyville, KY.   Merrick is a local farmer who contracted with Gavilon Grain to sell his corn, wheat, and soybeans at the grain elevator.   Between September 19, 2016, and May 5, 2021, Kingston and Merrick devised a scheme to defraud Gavilon Grain by creating multiple scale tickets for each truck load of crop that Merrick delivered.  Kingston electronically submitted the scale tickets to Gavilon Grain’s headquarters in Nebraska for payment.  The scheme caused Merrick to be paid twice for each truck load of crop he delivered.  

During court proceedings, Kingston and Merrick admitted that Merrick was paid $354,870.11 for phantom loads of product.   After receiving payment from Gavilon Grain, Merrick would make a cash payment to Kingston.

Kingston and Merrick both pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and five counts of wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.  As part of the plea agreement, they will be required to pay $354,870.11 in restitution to Gavilon Grain.  Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on August 24, 2022, by U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell, who will determine any sentence each receives after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky made the announcement.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond McGee.


Updated May 12, 2022