Ore. man pleads guilty to fraud in corn sale



EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A 54-year-old Springfield, Ore., man has pleaded guilty to wire fraud for selling more than 4.2 million pounds of corn that was falsely labeled as organically grown.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Tuesday that Harold Chase used several aliases to buy conventionally grown corn, then sold it as organic to Grain Millers Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn.

Much of the corn was used as organic feed for livestock.

Prosecutors say Chase made about $200,000 more than he deserved. The Oregonian reports that Grain Millers and its customers paid $217 a ton for the falsely labeled feed — or more than $450,000 in all. The corn should have been valued closer to $125 per ton.

The Register-Guard reports Chase has agreed to pay more than $450,000 in restitution.

Sentencing is scheduled Feb. 14 in federal court in Eugene. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.