Public Safety

Farmer sentenced in multimillion dollar organic fraud scheme dies by suicide

Killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning, coroner says

Randy Constant
Randy Constant

A Missouri man sentenced last week in what prosecutors called a “Field of Schemes” — racking up over $142 million in sales for passing off grains as organic when most were not — died by suicide Monday, according to a Missouri coroner.

Randy Constant, 61, died in his garage from carbon monoxide poisoning about 5:20 p.m. Monday at his home in Chillicothe, Mo., Livingston County coroner Scott Lindley said Tuesday. His death was ruled a suicide, Lindley said.

Constant, who wasn’t in federal custody, was allowed to self-report to a designated prison when notified by the U.S. Marshal’s Service to start serving his 10-year sentence, according to U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams’ ruling.

Many times following “white collar,” non-violent convictions in federal court, defendants are given the choice to immediately start serving time, report to the U.S. Marshal’s Service at a time they designate or self-report to the prison where they will serve.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office didn’t ask for Constant to remain in custody pending his prison designation.

His wife, Pam Constant, in a statement Tuesday, said, “We are still in shock and disbelief over yesterday’s events, when my husband took his own life. As many people know, just days ago a judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison for his part in selling large amounts of organic grain that were not wholly organic. I know Randy was deeply ashamed of his conduct.”

She asked that news media and others respect their privacy “as we grieve for a man who we will remember as a wonderful father, community leader, tireless volunteer and my beloved husband of 39 years.”

Constant pleaded guilty last December to one count of wire fraud. He admitted the scheme involved about $142.4 million in grain sales, the vast majority of which were fraudulent.

Constant also admitted he misled customers into thinking they were buying certified organic grain when the grain he was selling from 2010 to 2017 was not organic, according to court documents. He told customers the grain was from certified organic fields in Nebraska and Missouri, but they were not.

Federal prosecutors said he made many of the sales through a brokerage called Jericho Solutions, which he owned in Ossian in Winneshiek County.

As part of the plea, Constant agreed to forfeit $128.2 million in proceeds from the scheme.

Overall, from 2010 to 2017, Constant sold over 11 million bushels of grain, over 90 percent of which were falsely marketed as organic.

Constant’s scheme also affected the organic meat market, according to evidence at sentencing. His grain was mostly used as animal feed, primarily for chickens and cattle. That livestock then was sold as organic meat or products. Constant’s fraud caused thousands of consumers across the country to pay premium prices for what they thought was organic.

Prosecutors said while organic customers were being deceived, Constant was spending money on escorts and gambling.

Between 2010 and 2017, Constant went to Las Vegas more than 20 times, paying for flights, hotels, gambling and escorts.

He had sexual relationships with three women who lived in Las Vegas, and over the course of the fraud paid two of them over $225,000 to do work for his companies. But the women did “very little of value” for Constant’s companies, according to prosecutors.

Constant’s banking records also show over $360,000 in additional Las Vegas-related expenses during the scheme. About $110,000 of that was charged to a bank account Constant shared with one of the women and included payments for a vehicle, insurance, foreign travel and breast augmentation surgery.

Constant was also ordered, during sentencing to pay $205,604 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to court documents.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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