A Wiregrass farmer is alleged to have played a role in an extensive crop insurance fraud effort and federal authorities are seeking almost $1 million in return upon his conviction, according to federal court documents.
According to court filings from U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, prosecutors believe Dexter Day Gilbert and/or others received funds from the federal Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to which he was not legally entitled for crops planted in Houston County from Feb. 26, 2016, until Jan. 18, 2017.
The allegations were made in the form of a federal information filed Thursday morning. An information is a formal criminal charge in lieu of an indictment. It is typically filed when the defendant wishes to expedite the process of a guilty plea.
A consent plea hearing is scheduled for June 4 in Montgomery.
According to the information filed Thursday, prosecutors believe Gilbert was not alone. The information alleges Gilbert was “aiding and abetting another” and was “aided and abetted by another” in the scheme. The government is seeking a money forfeiture of $919,551 upon his conviction.
The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program is administered by the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and was created to provide financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disaster.
A Headland woman was arrested by federal authorities in February of this year on similar charges. Anna Marie Knowles, 36, was indicted on wire fraud and theft of public money or property, and aiding and abetting on both. She is currently set for trial Aug. 20.
In Knowles’ indictment, authorities allege she fraudulently claimed a crop of squash she had planted was destroyed due to drought. She is alleged to have received $116,500 in Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Funds.
Knowles also worked at the local USDA office in Dothan and was responsible for administering federal crop insurance programs in Houston County, according to prosecutors.