Missouri man pleads guilty in organic grain fraud scheme


Missouri man pleads guilty in organic grain fraud scheme

A Chillicothe, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court this week to his role in the largest organic grain fraud scheme in U.S. history. The U.S. Attorney in Kansas City says 57-year-old Steven Whiteside was charged in the $142 million scheme to sell non-organic grain as organic. The misdemeanor charge could get Whiteside up to 12 months in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Whiteside was part of a ring led by the late Randy Constant, also of Chillicothe, who took his own life after being sentenced in August for his role in a related case. John Burton of Clarksdale, Missouri, and three farmers from Nebraska, all of whom who supplied Constant with non-organic grain, were also sentenced to federal prison for their roles in the scheme.

From 2010 to 2017, Constant misled customers who thought they were buying certified organic grain when the grain was not organic.

Constant’s grain was used mostly as animal feed, primarily for chickens and cattle that were then sold at a premium for what consumers thought was organic meat.

In order for grain to be certified as organic, it must be produced and handled through approved methods and without the use of certain chemicals.