Organic food fraud leader gets 10-year term
A judge on Friday sentenced the mastermind of the largest known organic food fraud scheme in U.S. history to 10 years in prison, saying he cheated thousands of customers into buying products they didn’t want.
U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams said Randy Constant orchestrated a massive fraud that did “incalculable damage” to consumers and shook public confidence in the nation’s organic food industry.
Williams said that, between 2010 and 2017, consumers nationwide were fooled into paying extra to buy products that they believed were better for the environment and their own health. Instead, they unwittingly purchased food that relied on the use of chemical pesticides to grow crops, that they opposed.
“Thousands upon thousands of consumers paid for products they did not get and paid for products they did not want,” Williams said. “This has caused incalculable damage to the confidence the American public has in organic products.”
Williams said the scam harmed other organic farmers who were playing by the rules but could not compete with the low prices offered by Constant’s Iowa-based grain brokerage, and middlemen who unknowingly purchased and marketed tainted organic grain.