CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A fifth farmer has pleaded guilty to his role in an organic grain fraud scheme that involved at least $140 million in sales of grain.
John Burton, of Clarksdale, Missouri, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
Burton, 52, admitted that grain grown on his non-organic fields was marketed and sold as organic and that unapproved substances were used on fields certified as organic. Federal prosecutors are seeking to require that he forfeit $2.2 million that was traced to the scheme.
Burton’s plea comes months after one of his associates, 61-year-old Randy Constant of Chillicothe, Missouri, pleaded guilty to charges alleging he masterminded the scheme.
Constant made many of the fraudulent sales through an Iowa grain brokerage that he owned. Three other Nebraska farmers have also pleaded guilty in the case.