Farmers Withdraw Pleas To Head To Trial In Federal Fraud Case

Original Case Details

The married owners of a farm in southwest Michigan were charged with a litany of charges related to a 2012 bankruptcy filing. The husband was indicted by a grand jury with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, two counts of false statements on loan and credit applications, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and three different counts of bankruptcy fraud. It is alleged that the husband fraudulently received a $68 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank by falsely claiming the amount of his land, his assets, and inventory among other things. It is alleged he also filed false insurance claims to obtain payments which were actually used to pay for his farming operations and overhead.

The husband made a deal with the U.S Attorney’s Office back in April 2019. His deal included a maximum of five years in federal prison. He pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit crop insurance fraud. The judge ruled that the agreement was not consistent with how the sentencing guidelines should be applied in regard to the case. The judge ruled that the correct sentencing guidelines range was between 12.5 to 15 years in prison. This ruling obviously did not line up with the original five year maximum in the agreement. The judge allowed for time to either come up with a new plea agreement or withdraw the plea altogether. The wife had been charged with separate related offenses back in 2015 and sentenced to 20 months in prison on her own plea agreement. That plea was also withdrawn because her plea agreement was ruled to be contingent on the husband going through with his plea agreement.

What Happens When You Withdraw Your Plea?

Withdrawing a guilty plea is not a common occurrence. It is only reserved for specific situations and cases where a negotiated deal has a material part that is unable to be met. In the present case, the husband had a deal that had a five-year prison cap on it. When the judge ruled that his sentencing range was as high as 15 years, then the man was obviously not getting the benefit of his bargain. Since that has occurred, in the interests of justice, the judge has allowed him to withdraw his plea. When a plea is withdrawn, your case goes back to the pretrial phase to see if any other agreement can be reached or, more commonly, will end up going to trial. The prosecutor will not be allowed to use any statements made in connection with the guilty plea against you at trial. It will be treated as if the guilty plea did not happen in terms of what evidence is allowed at trial. If the prosecutor was allowed to use your guilty plea at a trial, it wouldn’t seem like it would make much sense to withdraw your plea right? Again, it takes a specific legal circumstance to allow you to be able to withdraw a plea. You cannot withdraw your plea simply because you have a change of heart and now want to go to trial. The court system favors the finality of cases and does not like to keep them going or reopen them unless there is a good reason to. If you are looking to withdraw a guilty plea, then time is of the essence. It is imperative to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney (if you don’t have one already) about what needs to be done in order to withdraw a plea.

Any Further Questions?

If you have any additional questions relating to this case or anything else related to federal fraud, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.

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