On Monday, it was announced that a former employee of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency in Dothan, Alabama had been arrested. 36-year-old Anna Marie Knowles of Headland, Alabama was arrested on charges of wire fraud, theft of government property and using a false document in a matter under the jurisdiction of the federal government. It is alleged that Knowles was involved in a crop insurance fraud scheme.
The indictment alleges that in 2016 Knowles obtained crop insurance through a federal program, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. This program is run by the USDA. It provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops in the event that a natural disaster leads to low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planning. The defendant insured a crop of summer squash, which she was planning to grow on land in Houston County, Alabama.
Then, the defendant filed a claim through the federal crop insurance program. The defendant allegedly falsely reported that a drought had caused her to lose the majority of the squash crop. She also submitted forged receipts to show that she had spent money to purchase squash seed and fertilizer. As a result, the defendant fraudulently obtained $116,500 through NAP.
The indictment also explains that Knowles’s job at the USDA office made her responsible for administering federal crop insurance programs in Houston County. If Knowles is convicted of the most serious charge, she will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. At this point in time, the defendant remains innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Additional details have been made available here.