BEEKEEPER SENTENCED FOR LYING TO OBTAIN USDA LOANS

 

 

                                    Dianne Smith (202) 720-6915

                                           diannes@oig.usda.gov

 

 

BEEKEEPER SENTENCED FOR LYING TO OBTAIN USDA LOANS

 

     WASHINGTON, December 7, 1998--U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector

General Roger C. Viadero announced today that William L. Laidlaw, a beekeeper

in Carey, Idaho, was sentenced in federal district court in Boise to serve 28

months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to

pay USDA $3,078,030 in restitution for making false statements in order to

obtain loans and cash payments.

 

     Laidlaw's business, Laidlaw Apiaries, produced honey and placed bees for

pollination.  In 1988, Laidlaw began obtaining honey price support loans from

USDA.  These loans are made for a nine-month period to allow honey producers

to choose the time during that period when market conditions are most

favorable for selling their honey crops.

 

     In each application for a loan, Laidlaw was required to state that he

had produced a certain amount of honey and that the honey would be maintained

on his premises as collateral for the loan.

 

     Beginning in 1992, Laidlaw began telling USDA that he was selling the

secured honey to a Seattle company.  However, investigation showed that no

honey had been sold to this company.  In addition, Laidlaw was using the

proceeds from new loans to pay off the old loans.

 

     On February 12, 1996, USDA officials discovered during an inspection of

Laidlaw's facilities that he had virtually no honey, when he should have had

over 5.5 million pounds of honey in storage as collateral for approximately

$2.7 million in loans. Laidlaw later defaulted on the loans.

 

     Laidlaw entered a guilty plea to the charge in September of this year,

admitting that he made false statements to USDA concerning his honey

production.

 

     This investigation was conducted by USDA's Office of Inspector General

and was prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the District of Idaho.

 

 

 

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