Oregon man gets prison for massive corn fraud that 'undermined' organic food market

An Oregon man has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for selling 4.2 million pounds of corn that was falsely labeled as organically grown.

Harold Chase received 27 months in prison after almost doubling his profits by intentionally labeling the corn as organic and selling it for more than $250,000, the Oregon U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

By using different aliases, he purchased the corn from several conventional corn growers. Much of the corn was then sold to local Oregon companies for use in their organic products.

When dealing with buyers, Chase claimed the corn had come from a U.S. Department of Agriculture certified organic grower, prosecutors said.

The companies that purchased the falsely labeled corn used it in their organic products -- such as organic meat and dairy products -- that were sold to the public as USDA certified organic products.

"This defendant intentionally undermined an entire regulatory scheme out of greed," U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said. “Consumers are entitled to know what they are eating and feeding their families.”

USDA agent Lori Chan vowed to continue to investigate criminal violations related to the department’s National Organic Program.

"Consumers want to feel confident when they buy agriculture products labeled organic. They deserve to get what they paid for,” she said in the U.S. attorney office’s news release.