Michigan Mega-Farmer Faces Fraud Charges

DTN writer Todd Neeley reported on Friday that, “Michael Stamp, the former owner of Decatur, Michigan-based Stamp Farms LLC, and two of his associates have been indicted on 14 counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and making false statements to attain loans and crop insurance, according to an indictment unsealed by a federal district court. A grand jury handed down the indictment on Dec. 13.

“Stamp Farms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2012 after Wells Fargo initiated action against Stamp on June 30, 2012. The bank found Stamp Farms in noncompliance on loan agreements, including working capital and other ratios.

“The indictment, which was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Jan. 18, also names James Leonard Becraft, Jr., and Douglas Edward Diekman as co-conspirators.”

The DTN article noted that, “According to court documents in Stamp’s individual bankruptcy case, Wells Fargo claimed it had made a $68 million loan in December 2011 based on representations that Stamp Farms and its affiliates farmed 46,000 acres. Audits later could uncover only about 27,000 acres, the bank claimed.”

Mr. Neeley added that, “Starting in 2011, the indictment said, Stamp needed money to keep his farm going and to pay off an outstanding loan. Between March and December, the grand jury alleges, Stamp provided false information to obtain about $68 million in credit from Wells Fargo. He did so, the indictment said, by misrepresenting the amount of land he farmed and the value of his farming assets.

“When the bank extended his credit, the indictment said, Stamp continued to provide false information about his operation. In addition, the grand jury said Stamp submitted false claims to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation in order to get crop insurance payments.”

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