5 charged in Ohio in crop insurance fraud case

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A federal grand jury recently indicted five southeastern Ohio men on charges including theft of public money in an alleged scheme to defraud a federal crop assistance program.

All five of the men from Meigs County also were indicted in U.S. District Court last week on charges of conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Two of the men were indicted on money laundering counts, said Fred Alverson, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $1.5 million that authorities say represent proceeds traceable to the alleged crimes.

The men are accused of defrauding the federal Non-Insured Crop Assistance Program. The program provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevention of planting results from a natural disaster. Payments are limited to $100,000 per crop year per application.

According to the indictment, one man recruited the others to apply for payments and turn them over to him after keeping part for themselves.

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