GOVERNMENT  SEIZES $1.95 MILLION PLANTATION FROM TOBACCO DEALER

                                                              

                                    Dianne Smith (202) 720-6915

                                           diannes@oig.usda.gov

 

 

GOVERNMENT  SEIZES $1.95 MILLION PLANTATION FROM TOBACCO DEALER

 

     WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 1998--U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector General

Roger C. Viadero announced today that the federal government seized a plantation

worth $1.95 million and $3 million in cash and assets from a tobacco dealer

convicted of fraud.

 

     "This seizure is the result of years of investigation and cooperation between

USDA and the Internal Revenue Service," Viadero said.  "We are pleased that the

judge saw fit to order such a large judgment against those convicted of defrauding

the federal government."

 

     A final order of forfeiture was filed on Jan. 5, 1998, by Malcolm J. Howard,

United States District Judge, Eastern District of North Carolina, Greenville, against

Mark Corrigan, formerly of Fredericksburg.   Corrigan was ordered to forfeit to the

United States of America his plantation home known as "Beauclaire Plantation" and to

turn over $3 million in cash.  The original forfeiture order was modified by the

court to substitute the following assets for part of the $3 million in cash:

Coosa Lad, a stud horse registered with the American Quarter Horse Association;

all bank accounts over which Mark Corrigan had signature authority at the First

Virginia Bank; and two lots with improvements known as 1715 Franklin Street,

Fredericksburg, Va.

 

     Corrigan played a key role in a scheme that resulted in the illegal sale of

more than 26 million pounds of tobacco, valued at more than $44 million.  He was

previously tried and convicted of money laundering, false statements, mail fraud,

and conspiracy.

 

     Coosa Lad was purchased by Corrigan for $500,000 and his plantation was listed

for sale for $1.95 million.  Beauclaire Plantation, which includes about 56 acres of property, dates from colonial America and is eligible to be registered as a historical location.

 

     This forfeiture is the result of a criminal indictment brought by Janice

McKenzie Cole, United States Attorney, Eastern District of North Carolina, against

Corrigan and three codefendants.  The other three defendants reached agreements with

the government prior to trial.  Corrigan was tried in United States District Court

by Thomas P. Swaim, Assistant United States Attorney.

 

     Special agents of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture,

and the Criminal Investigation Division, Internal Revenue Service, both in Raleigh,

conducted this joint investigation which spanned over five years.  A total of

approximately 40 tobacco dealers, tobacco warehousemen and farmers have been convicted

for their roles in defrauding USDA's flue cured tobacco program.

 

     Sentencing of Corrigan is scheduled for later today.

 

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