Nebraska Farmer Gets Prison on Bank Fraud

Nebraska Farmer Gets Three Years in Prison, Millions in Restitution on Bank Fraud

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A Nebraska farmer has been sentenced to three years in jail and to pay more than $5 million in restitution after pleading guilty to bank fraud. (Photo by Tim-Evanson-cc-by-sa-2.0)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A farmer in Nebraska is appealing the millions of dollars in restitution he faces after being sentenced last month to three years in prison and ordered to pay $5.1 million.

A federal judge sentenced George Liakos, 64, of Gering, Nebraska, -- near the western edge of the state -- in late October after he pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. Laikos had faced a grand jury indictment going back to October 2021 on four counts of bank fraud and one count of making a false statement.

In addition to the jail sentence, Liakos was ordered to pay about $5.1 million to First Interstate Bank and will serve a five-year term of supervised release.

On Nov. 6, 2023, Liakos filed an appeal of his sentence to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, challenging the amount of restitution.

One count of bank fraud carries up to 30 years in prison and a maximum of a $1 million fine. As part of the plea agreement, Liakos acknowledged the court could order restitution in the case.

In addition, as part of the agreement Liakos waived all rights to appeal the conviction and sentence. However, the plea agreement gives Liakos the right to appeal the restitution order.

Beginning in April 2017 and continuing through May 2019, Liakos misrepresented the amount of commodities he had in storage, cattle inventory and crop acres.

In addition, Liakos concealed his debt from Great Western Bank in order to secure approximately $11 million in loans, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Nebraska.

Great Western Bank, which was acquired by First Interstate Bank, was a banking corporation with locations in Iowa, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska, including a banking office in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Great Western Bank's deposits were insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Liakos conducted a farming operation in Bayard, Nebraska, primarily growing beans, corn and sugar beets as well as raising cattle.

As a part of his scheme to obtain money from Great Western Bank, on June 2, 2017, Liakos executed loans and a security agreement with Great Western Bank.

The loans and security agreement consisted of a revolving line of credit, a machinery and equipment loan and a livestock loan.

In approving the loans and security agreement, Great Western Bank relied on information from Liakos reflecting current commodity and livestock inventory, accounts receivable, loans and accounts payable that he knew "materially overstated his commodity inventory and materially understated and failed to report loans and accounts payable," according to the U.S. attorney.

As part of that agreement, Liakos granted Great Western Bank a security interest in assets and farm products as collateral for the loan. As a result of the Liakos's scheme, Great Western Bank sustained a financial loss of $3.9 million.

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Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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