Oregon Man Goes to Prison Over Counterfeit Corn

Harold Chase, 55, managed to double his profits nicely by fudging on corn. Originally held on $1 million bond (retrieved by our Las Vegas bail bonds agents) Judge Ann Aiken gave Chase 27 months behind bars to think about his indulgence and the potential damage he could’ve done. Chase’s crime? He falsely labeled corn purchased from everyday growers as high-end, USDA-certified organic.

Aiken also noted that Chase had harmed the community’s trust in the local farmer’s market as well as ignored the areas keen interest in pesticide-free foods. US Attorney Amanda Marshall told reporters that Chase’s crime not only harms the local community but damaged the organic industry.

“The defendant willfully undermined an entire regulatory scheme because of greed,” Aiken said. “Consumers are supposed to know — and trust — what they are feeding to their families.”

Chase dreamed up the elaborate scheme in November 2009 and almost immediately doubled his profits.

For USDA-organic certification, produce cannot be grown with synthetic fertilizer, grown with pesticides or manipulated through bioengineering. As organic products cost more than non-organic products, there was a built-in incentive for Chase.

Chase purchased the corn as he used different aliases when dealing with multiple (conventional) corn growers. Most of the produce was then sold to Oregon companies for their use in organic products.

When handling the buyers, Chase claimed the corn originated from a USDA-certified organic grower. The buyers relied on the falsely labeled corn in their commodities which were sold, to the public, as USDA-certified organic.