Chillicothe Man Pleads Guilty In $142 Million Organic Grain Scheme
A Chillicothe man, 57-year-old Steven N. Whiteside, pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a $142 million scheme to sell non-organic grain as though it was organic.
Whiteside entered the guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill A. Morris on federal information that charges him with falsely signing documents related to the fraud scheme. This is the same scheme that included the late Randy Constant of Chillicothe, the leader of the fraud scheme, John Burton of Clarksdale, Missouri, and three farmers from Nebraska, all of whom who supplied Constant with non-organic grain.
In the guilty plea, Whiteside admitted that he signed a document in May of 2015, falsely claiming that he owned or farmed certain parcels of land when he actually had no affiliation or control of the property. Whiteside falsely attested in a Land Use History Verification that no chemicals had been used on the property in the preceding three years. The Land Use History Verification is a form used in conjunction with an application to have land certified as organic as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. In order for grain to be certified as organic, the grain must have been grown through approved methods and without the use of certain substances, including synthetic chemicals, and produced and handled in compliance with the program.
At the time Whiteside signed the document, it was co-signed by Constant, who was identified on the document as the applicant seeking the certification for the land. In addition to being the identified applicant, Constant also purchased non-organic grain from Whiteside and employed Whiteside as part of Constant’s fish farm operation.