Judge sentences farmer for fraud


A farmer who defrauded federal farm programs is going to prison.

Leonard Arthur “Lenny” Kolberg Jr. of Bangor was sentenced Sept. 14 to one year and one day in prison for defrauding federal farm programs of more than $500,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan, which is part of the Department of Justice, yesterday.

In December 2009, Kolberg, owner of Kolberg Farms, pledged a portion of his harvested corn in exchange for a $145,000 marketing assistance loan from the Farm Services Agency.

Marketing assistance loans are designed to provide farmers with interim financing at harvest time to help them meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are at their lowest.

The DOJ said Kolberg defrauded the Farm Services Agency by lying about the amount of corn he pledged as security for the loan and by selling the corn on the private market and keeping the proceeds, instead of paying off the loan. Kolberg hid some of his activity by selling the corn in other people’s names.

At the same time, the DOJ said Kolberg filed fraudulent crop insurance claims in connection with his 2009 harvest. He subsequently filed fraudulent crop insurance claims in connection with his 2013 and 2014 harvests.

Justice officials said Kolberg defrauded federal farm programs of $524,838.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Jr. said that "protecting taxpayers and honest, hardworking farmers who rely on farm assistance programs is an important part of our mission."

"Individuals who defraud those programs should know that they will be prosecuted," Miles said.

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