Federal Indictments Handed Down to Meigs County Residents in Crop Fraud Case

stars-storyCOLUMBUS – More than 1.5 million dollars is involved in a case of alleged fraud following the indictment of five Meigs County residents.

According to a statement released by the United States Attorney’s Office in Columbus, the indictments were handed down by a federal grand jury today.  Indicted were: Christopher T. Wolfe, 43, Racine; Michael L. Johnson, 62, Portland; Terry J. McNickle, 51, Racine; Mark D. Wolfe, 41, Racine;  and Joey L. Jerrell, 43, Racine.

They have been charged with conspiracy, theft of public money, and money laundering for allegedly defrauding the federal Non-Insured Crop Assistance Program (NAP).

According to the Farm Subsidy Database which tracks the amounts farmers receive in federal assistance through NAP, Christopher Wolfe received $1,272,865.37 from 1995 through 2012. For that same time period, McNickle recieved $486,911.00, and Jarrell received $527,970.00.

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to a natural disaster. Payments are limited to $100,000 per crop year per individual or entity. The indictment alleges that Christopher T. Wolfe recruited co-conspirators to enroll in NAP. The co-conspirators would allegedly apply for payments and turn them over to Christopher T. Wolfe after keeping a portion for themselves.

All five are charged with conspiracy, which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years, and theft of public monies, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison. The indictment also charges conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, crimes punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Not all defendants are charged in each count of money laundering or money laundering conspiracy. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $1,563,337.30 which allegedly represents the proceeds traceable to the commission of the crimes.

The defendants will receive summonses to appear in federal court in Columbus at a time and date to be set by the court.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Mark Porter, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service and Derrick Hurst, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General announced the indictment today.

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation of this case by Secret Service agents and the USDA-OIG, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Bosley, who is prosecuting the case.

An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.