Michigan Farmer Faces Federal Trial

Trial Set for Michigan Farmer Alleged to Have Conducted Crop Insurance Scheme

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
Connect with Todd:
A Michigan farmer is scheduled to go to trial in May 2024 in connection with a federal indictment alleging crop insurance fraud and other charges. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Springport, Michigan, farmer Gaylord Lincoln is scheduled for trial in May 2024 after a grand jury in 2022 indicted him on 13 counts in connection with a federal investigation into alleged federal crop insurance and farm benefits fraud.

According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Michigan on Monday, Lincoln's trial is now scheduled for May 28, 2024, with motions due by April 1 and a final pretrial conference set for May 8.

In December 2021, the U.S. filed a complaint alleging Lincoln violated the False Claims Act by maintaining a "scheme to fraudulently obtain more federal farm benefit program payments than he was entitled to receive," according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Then, in September 2022, a federal grand jury handed down 13 indictments, including four counts of making a false statement to obtain crop insurance, five counts of wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud. That same month, U.S. attorneys dropped the lawsuit as part of a settlement agreement.

Lincoln's farm operates on land across four counties in south-central Michigan, including Calhoun, Eaton, Ingham and Jackson.

According to the indictment, from 2010 to 2019, Lincoln set up "sham farming operations" using the names of family members and employees. Lincoln then allegedly took out land leases on farmland using the names of the operators.

"Defendant further directed the sham farming operators to obtain multiperil crop insurance through FCIC-backed insurers," the indictment said.

"At defendant's direction, these sham farming operators applied for federal crop insurance under their own names."

In crop insurance applications, acreage reports and loss claims, the indictment said the operators, at Lincoln's direction, allegedly "falsely asserted that they had a 100% share in the insured crops."

However, the indictment said the "sham farming operators did not have a 100% share in the insured crops because they had no financial risk in the production of those crops."

The indictment alleges Lincoln handled "almost all interactions" with the crop insurance agency on behalf of the fake farm operators.

"In the event that the crop insurance company paid to cover a loss under a policy held by the sham farming operators, this money was placed in the 'joint' accounts controlled by defendant or was paid to the sham farming operators," the indictment alleges.

"The defendant then directed that the money be paid over to him, or the monies were used to fund defendant's sham farming operations."

Lincoln allegedly "fraudulently obtained indemnification" payments from a crop insurance provider.

Read more on DTN:

"U.S. Wants Crops Fraud Case Expedited," 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: