Couple ordered to pay $1.4M for submitting bogus claims to FSA

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 12, 2014 -- A federal judge has ordered an Iowa couple to pay almost $1.4 million in a civil judgement for submitting phony claims for loan deficiency payments to USDA's Farm Service Agency.

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Howard “Jack” Aleff and Reena Slominski, doing business as L&J Wool and Fur, presented 132 separate requests for wool loan deficiency payments over a six-year period “when in fact they owned no sheep,” Brendan Johnson, the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, said in a news release. As a result they were paid early $340,000 to which they were not entitled.

Under federal law, people who submit false claims to the U.S. have to pay civil penalties, plus three times the amount of damages sustained by the government.

Aleff and Slominski had previously pled guilty to the criminal charge of Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S. and in 2012 they were sentenced to five years' probation, fined $60,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $303,890 to the Commodity Credit Corporation, Johnson said.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the USDA's Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Wright and Cheryl Schrempp DuPris prosecuted the criminal and civil cases respectively.

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