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Nash farmer, 74, imprisoned for crop insurance fraud

Posted April 9, 2015

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— A 74-year-old Nash County tobacco farmer will spend six months in prison after being convicted of federal crop insurance fraud, U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced Thursday.

Clay Taylor Strickland, of Spring Hope, was sentenced Monday and ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution to two federal agencies, along with a $10,000 fine. He will face three years of supervised release following his prison term.

Walker said Strickland hid his tobacco production from the U.S. Department of Agriculture by selling tobacco for cash to a third party who then resold it. Strickland profited under the scheme because he was paid twice for each pound of tobacco – once though the cash sale of the “hidden” tobacco and again through filing a false crop insurance claim.

“As a farmer, Strickland understood the importance of the federal crop insurance program as a safety net to the community in times of disaster, and yet he stole from that same program,” Walker said in a news release. “The sentence imposed today reflects the seriousness of his offense and should serve as a deterrent for others.”

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