Prosecutors say thousands of individuals and businesses were victims of a large-scale scheme in which ordinary corn and soybeans were fraudulently marketed nationwide as "certified organic."
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said in a filing Wednesday that potentially "tens of thousands" were defrauded by Randy Constant and his associates into paying a premium for products that they didn't want.
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Constant, of Chillicothe, Missouri, and three others have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Constant, who owned an Iowa grain brokerage, acknowledged that he sold $142 million worth of corn, soybeans and wheat over a 7 ½ year period that wasn't organic despite his representations.
Constant was aware that most of his product was grown using non-organic methods. The buyers included companies who processed the grain into other products that were marketed as organic.