Tuesday, 06 June 2017 13:21

Whitakers farmer sentenced in tobacco-selling scheme

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A Whitakers farmer was sentenced today to six months in prison in a fraudulent tobacco-selling scheme, the United States Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Chief District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced Kay Weeks Fisher, 67, to six months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release and a $25,000 fine for making material false statements.
According to the criminal information and information in the public record, Fisher was aware of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation and took steps to help another farmer conceal the sales of hidden tobacco and encouraged the farmer to provide false testimony to federal agents.
The case is tied to one involving Gary Amerson of Cove City and Jody Ordess of Bailey.
Both took pleas in 2011 and have since been sentenced, according to a statement released then.
Amerson pled guilty to one count of making false statements in connection with the Federal Crop Insurance Program, aiding and abetting the same and one count of making material false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Ordess pled guilty to one count of conspiring to make false statements, to make material false
statements, to commit mail and wire fraud, to structure transactions, and one count of structuring transactions to evade federal reporting requirements.
While the farmers charged in the matter eventually told the truth, the United States Attorney’s Office said Fisher’s criminal conduct obstructed the investigation and ultimately judicial proceedings.
Amerson was a farmer who, in 2006, paid off an adjuster to inflate his crop insurance losses. The payment was made through other previously convicted co-conspirators.
Amerson thereafter filed or caused to be filed claims for federal crop insurance, federal crop disaster, and private crop hail insurance and in each instance, failed to disclose his true crop production for the 2006 crop year.
Ordess ceased farming operations in 2006, but agreed to sell hidden tobacco for a co-conspirator.
He sold the hidden tobacco through the Raynor Warehouse and arranged for the warehouseman to structure the payments to him in amounts under $10,000 so he could evade federal reporting requirements.

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