A Louisiana farmer is guilty of defrauding the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) by using fake farms to qualify for $1.6 million in subsidies, the Department of Justice said Monday in a press release.
The jury convicted Brad McIntyre of Bastrop, La., of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering after a five-hour deliberation July 21, the press release states.
McIntyre’s fraud began in 2009 when he found a way to avoid a $40,000 cap on the amount of USDA subsidies a single farm owner is allowed by listing his family members and workers as farm owners on parts of his total acreage, the Louisiana News Star reports.
Emergency relief payments for farmers suffering from drought or other natural disasters is capped at $100,000. McIntyre’s group of fictitious farm owners were together able to raise that cap indefinitely, as well.
McIntyre was able to defraud the USDA of farm subsidies for four years by setting up real post office boxes for all his family members’ and workers’ fake farms. McIntyre established and controlled all of the separate mailing addresses he used in his fraud, according to the News Star.
McIntyre’s scheme ended in 2013. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison, more than $1 million in property forfeiture, and $2.5 million in fines.
“I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s office, OIG special agents and our investigative partners for their hard work on this investigation,” Office of Inspector General assistant special agent Dax Roberson said in the press release. “When the integrity of USDA’s farming programs is violated by criminal conduct, the Office of Inspector General will pursue justice to the fullest extent of the law.”
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