Harold Chase, 54,  of Springfield, OR is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

His crime was one count of wire fraud for falsely labeling regular corn as organic corn in a $450,000 sale.  

He pleaded guilty to the offense and will be scheduled next Feb. 12.

The sale  of 4.2 million pounds of corn was to Eden Prairie, MN-based Grain Millers Inc.  It became the federal crime of wire fraud when Chase faxed Grain Millers Inc. the paperwork claiming the shipment involved organic corn from a USDA-certified organic grower in Milton Freewater, OR.

Federal prosecutors say Chase was using seveal aliases to conceal his schedule, purchasing the “organic corn” from several conventional corn growers.

Grain Millers Inc., in turn, mislabeled the corn as “organic.”

Amanda Marshall, U.S. District Attorney for Oregon, said the integrity of USDA’s organic program was at stake.  She promised that USDA’s Office of the Inspector General would continue to investigate such offenses to make sure consumers get what they pay for.

Marshall said this is the fifth federal indictment for violations of the National Organic Program.

  • John

    So, 20 years prison for a physically harmless lie… and ZERO jail time for knowingly releasing salmonella-tainted peanut butter that goes on to kill and wound hundreds of people? YAY FOR aMERICA.

    • Steven Chase

      Harold is my uncle . Thank you and well said.

  • Frank

    While I agree that not criminally punishing the owner of Peanut Corporation of America was a travesty of great magnitude,it’s not exactly harmless if conventionally grown corn, doused with pesticides and possibly tainted by gmo corn, is sold as organic, now is it? People choose organic for a reason. Fraud by one individual selling tainted peanuts or by another selling tainted corn is still fraud. And referring to fascism and not the Corporate protective laws as the “enemy” detracts from the real harm at our doorstep. Do a bit of research on the topic before spewing vitriol.