Louisiana doctor Daniel Estes Crook was recently sentenced in federal court for defrauding the Farm Service Agency. Crook was convicted of making false statements to the FSA in order to receive federal disaster benefits. Prosecutors claimed that Crook fraudulently claimed significant losses in the wake of a 1998 drought, resulting in over $400,000 in disaster payments, all illegally obtained. Crook was sentenced this week to two years in prison and over $300,000 in fines.
While FSA fraud is relatively rare, Crook’s conviction is part of a recent trend, with Virginia farmer Timothy Stancill pleading guilty last month to defrauding several national crop insurers for more than $200,000. Stancill faces up to five years for making false statements and up to thirty years for defrauding the crop insurance program.
The penalties facing both men reaffirm the commitment of the FSA and the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to helping American farmers. While fraud is fortunately rare, harsh penalties for fraud help deter future acts while protecting the reputations of both organizations. The FCIC reported over $40 billion in claims over the last twenty years and remains an important tool for farmers. FSA disaster benefits also remain vital to farmers struggling in the wake of severe weather throughout the country.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer