Farmer charged in alleged $500K wheat crop scam

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One bushel of wheat weighs about 60 pounds and contains about 1 million individual kernels. It can yield about 42 pounds of white flour, 60 pounds of whole wheat flour, about 45 24-ounces boxes of wheat flake cereal, or about 42 pounds of pasta. More than 45 million acres of cropland was used to grow wheat in 2019.

PROSSER, Wash. (AP) — A farmer in southeastern Washington is accused of collecting tens of thousands of dollars in hidden wheat sales while collecting on crop insurance for alleged losses.

Rick T. Gray of Prosser and his company, Gray Land and Livestock LLC, are being sued by the federal government for the alleged multi-year scheme involving wheat farming operations in Klickitat County, The Tri-City Herald reported.

He reportedly received over a half-million dollars in crop insurance indemnity payments.

The civil enforcement action alleges Gray — from April 2015 through February 2019 — defrauded the federally backed program that is designed to help farmers nationwide.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Washington, brings eight counts against Gray and his company. It wasn’t immediately known if Gray has a lawyer to comment on the case.

The charges include violations of the False Claims Act, false applications to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, mail fraud; wire fraud; bank fraud and others.

State records show Gray Land and Livestock was administratively dissolved in February. The civil complaint says he filed for bankruptcy for that company, leaving creditor Columbia State Bank with over $3.5 million in outstanding claims.

Federal prosecutors have requested a jury trial.

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