Mike Stamp and two other persons were indicted in Grand Rapids federal court Jan. 25 on 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, making false statements regarding crop insurance, bankruptcy fraud, concealing assets, and making false oaths and false statements to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC).
Stamp, who was reportedly arrested in December and posted bond, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Jan. 25.
Stamp, who oversaw an agricultural empire that was estimated at more than 25,000 acres until financial troubles began in 2012 with a bankruptcy, is accused along with James Leonard Becraft, Jr., and Douglas Edward Biekman of alleged conspiracies that began to come to light in 2013.
The indictment charges that Wells Fargo Bank had extended credit to Stamp, apparently not knowing at the time that Stamp “continued to provide false information about his farming and grain elevator assets in order to induce Wells Fargo Bank to continue extending credit to him.”
The Grand Jury charges that “the object of the conspiracy was to obtain money, funds, credits, assets, securities and other property owned by, and under the custody and control of Wells Fargo Bank by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”
After filing for bankruptcy, the charges contend, Stamp “committed bankruptcy fraud by lying about and concealing assets from the bankruptcy court and creditors …”
“In particular,” the charges read, “Stamp conspired with (Becraft and Diekman) to “defraud the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and its reinsurers.”
With many of the alleged actions occurring in 2011, the indictment charges that “on or about Dec. 9, 2011, Stamp sent “an email communication to Wells Fargo Bank, with false receipts for hundreds of thousands of dollars of payments in grain to his business operations.” Later that month, the Grand Jury charges, Stamp also “misstated, and caused the misstatement of, the number of acres leased by Stamp Farms, including a false statement that it was leasing “15,805 acres of farmland …”
Sometime during the alleged acts, Stamp is charged with creating “and caused the creating of a false document, the “John Stapel inventory,” which “purported to be an inventory of Stamp Farms’ grain in storage and fertilizer as of Dec. 31, 2011.”
Email communications continued into February, 2012, the indictment charges, and alleges that in March 2012, Stamp “caused $147,000 of Northstar Grain, LLC, funds to be deposited to a Backroads Land Company bank account at First State Bank of Decatur. Later that month and into April, the charges allege, Stamp continued to send false documents to Wells Fargo, and also sent false grain storage information to accounting group Plante & Moran.
Further, the grand jury alleges, from June 2012 to October, 2012, Stamp “diverted and caused the diversion of assets pledged as collateral to Wells Fargo Bank by depositing and having them deposited into Honor Credit Union checking account …”
For much of 2012, the indictment charges, Stamp continued to send false documents to Wells Fargo and other entities, and continued to transfer funds from account to account, and, it alleges, that fall Stamp “deleted and caused S.M. to delete files on the Stamp Farms computer systems and to use special software to wipe incriminating files.”
Crop insurance fraud
The charges allege that the three men named in the indictment, along with someone the document calls R.T., conspired in 2006 and 2007 to “contract with the FCIC for crop insurance protection in the name of C.T., Diekman and R.T., who had no insurable interest in that land.” Diekman, the Grand Jury charges, contracted to two different companies and the FCIC for insurance protection, and that Stamp paid the premium of Diekman’s crop insurance policy ($32,359). Stamp allegedly also paid premiums on Diekman’s policy for 2009 coverage.
In 2008, the indictment alleges, Diekman “falsely certified … that he was the insured person and 100 percent shareholder of the crop covered…”
The indictment alleges that Diekman did the same in each year until 2012. Diekman then made loss claims, the document alleges.
The indictment also alleges falsification of harvested crop records. It alleges that “Stamp, Becraft, K.S. and other employees of Stamp Farms made their crop ticket system unreliable by destroying, misfiling and omitting information from harvested crop records in order to falsely claim losses on insured land and defraud the crop insurance providers and the FCIC.” The person referred to as R.T. allegedly was issued two crop insurance checks from Hudson Insurance Company, one for $14,966, and one for $35,429.30.”
In March 2013, the indictment charges, “Stamp told R.T. to cash the crop insurance checks and give the money from the two checks to defendant Stamp.”
Amid several allegations of “falsely answering questions under oath,” Stamp, the indictment charges, “was well aware that he had significantly overstated Stamp Farms’ grain assets on his 2012 borrowing base certificates sent to Wells Fargo Bank.”
It’s also alleged that Stamp “twice filed a statement of financial affairs in which he declared … that his income from employment or operation of business for the year 2012 was $173,790. In truth and fact,” the indictment alleges, “Stamp was well aware that he had income from employment and operation of business for the year 2012 in an amount greater than what he reported …”
The Grand Jury asks that Stamp forfeit property and pay “a sum of money equal to at least $25 million,” or to substitute property “as a result of any act or omission of the defendant.”
In two other counts against him, Stamp is also ordered, upon conviction, to pay another $25 million and to forfeit property.
On another count, the indictment reads, Stamp “shall forfeit $5,185,590.37 and property,” with the same amount to be forfeited in Counts 6 and 7.
In counts 8 and 9 of the bankruptcy fraud allegations, Stamp could be ordered to pay $166,500. A pre-trial conference for the defendants is set for Feb. 5.