DECATUR — A Decatur couple has pleaded guilty in federal court to multi-million dollar fraud charges involving their operation of one of Southwest Michigan’s largest corporate farms.
Mike Stamp admitted to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit crop insurance fraud while he owned and operated the 46,000-acre Stamp Farms LLC. His wife, Melissa Stamp, also pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from her knowledge of the crimes in connection with the farm operation.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, Mike Stamp revealed he fraudulently obtained a $68 million operating loan from California-based Wells Fargo & Co. in December 2011 by misrepresenting the amount of land he farmed and the value of his company’s assets, including harvested grain, fertilizer and fuel. After he obtained the loan, he continued to lie to Wells Fargo about his business by creating false farmland leases and other documents.
Stamp also admitted that he defrauded the federal crop insurance program by filing false claims, falsifying harvested crop records, and obtaining crop insurance in the names of entities with no insurable interest.
Melissa Stamp admitted that she was aware of her husband’s fraud, did not report it to authorities, and helped hide money from Wells Fargo and other creditors of the farm.
The IRS-Criminal Investigations unit and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike MacDonald prosecuted the case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Financial fraud, specifically providing false or misleading documents to financial institutions, “will not be tolerated,” according to Manny Muriel, special agent in charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit at the Detroit Field Office.
Stamp Farms was acquired out of bankruptcy at auction for $22.8 million in 2013 by the now-financially-embattled Boersen Farms Inc., as MiBiz previously reported.
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