Wolfe gets probation, fine in farm fraud case

COLUMBUS — A federal court judge sentenced a Meigs County man Monday to probation and more than $1 million in restitution in connection with defrauding a crop disaster assistance program.

Judge Gregory L. Frost sentenced Christopher T. Wolfe, 53, on Monday in U.S. District Court in Columbus to three years probation and $1.33 million restitution. Wolfe could have received up to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).

Wolfe, along with co-defendants Terry J. McNickle, 51; Mark D. Wolfe, 41; and Joey L. Jerrell, 43, all of Racine; and Michael L. Johnson, 62, of Portland, were indited in May 2014 on charges of conspiracy, theft of public monies, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.

According to the May 2014 indictment, Christopher T. Wolfe allegedly recruited co-conspirators to enroll in NAP. The co-conspirators would allegedly apply for payments and turn them over to Christopher T. Wolfe after keeping a portion for themselves.

In January, the five entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to defraud the United States in exchange for dismissal of the other charges. Previously, McNickle received three years probation and restitution in the amount of $464,780.50. Mark Wolfe received 2.5 years probation was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $100,000, minus the proceeds from the sale of the John Deere tractor,

Jerrell was sentenced to three years probation. His judgment also included restitution in the amount of $432,216, to be paid jointly and severally with co-defendant Christopher T. Wolfe, and forfeiture of property set forth in the forfeiture allegation.

The status of Johnson’s sentencing is still unknown at press time.

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to a natural disaster. Payments are limited to $100,000 per crop year per individual or entity.