Ore. man sentenced for organic corn fraud

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- A federal judge has sentenced a Springfield, Ore., man to more than two years in prison for selling more than 4.2 million pounds of corn that was falsely labeled as organically grown.

Judge Ann Aiken told 55-year-old Harold Chase on Wednesday that "you made a big mistake to commit this crime in Lane County." She noted the area's strong interest in pesticide-free foods.

Chase pleaded guilty in December to a single count of wire fraud.

Court documents say he wrongfully collected an extra $190,000 by passing the conventional grain off as organic corn.

Noting that much of the corn was eventually purchased by Oregon companies to produce their own organic products, U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said Chase not only defrauded companies "but also countless consumers."

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com