Wolf Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

Minnesota Farmer Sentenced to Prison in Organic Crops Conspiracy Case

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
Connect with Todd:
James Clayton Wolf, a Minnesota farmer, was sentenced to prison Monday in an organics crop conspiracy case. (DTN file photo by Pamela Smith)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- James Clayton Wolf was sentenced to three years in prison and two years of supervised release on Monday after pleading guilty to wire fraud in connection with a $46 million conspiracy to sell non-GMO corn and soybeans as organic.

According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the Cottonwood County farmer was ordered to forfeit property toward a $19.7 million judgment.

That includes seven bank accounts totaling at least $7 million, six tracts of land, about 15 farm implements and other equipment, two semi-trucks, three pickups and two sports cars, according to court records.

Wolf's nephew, Adam Clifford Olson, was sentenced to time served and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to making a false statement. Olson also was ordered to pay restitution of $69,380.

Prosecutors had sought a four-month jail sentence for Olson, the owner and operator of Olson Seed LLC in Windom, Minnesota.

According to an indictment, Wolf grew conventionally farmed crops using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which would violate organic farming standards. Olson was later added to the indictment for his alleged role in the scheme.

Organic crops are grown without the use of GMOs or chemicals, and farmers are required to follow strict protocols when it comes to planting, fertilizing, harvesting, storage and transportation of the crops labeled as organic.

For years, Wolf provided grain purchasers with copies of his National Organics Program certification, but according to the indictment, he withheld information that the grains were not organically farmed. The scheme resulted in Wolf allegedly receiving more than $46 million in payments from grain buyers.

Wolf was indicted by a grand jury last year on three counts of wire fraud. The other counts were dismissed.

The indictment alleged Wolf directed some grain payments to a third party who then "spent the money for Wolf's benefit." His organic farming certification was revoked in 2020. The indictment, however, alleges Wolf "utilized an associate" to continue the scheme by selling non-GMO crops as organic.

Wolf and other associates communicated with a grain supplier and with buyers via email and telephone, including sending documents "falsely describing" the grain as organically grown.

Read more on DTN:

"Farmer Faces $19.7M Judgment in Fraud," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @DTNeeley

Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
Connect with Todd: