Dexter Day Gilbert, 40, of Campbellton, Florida pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of theft of government property. Gilbert collected more crop insurance than he was entitled to under the terms of the program.
United States Attorney Louis Franklin and Special Agent in Charge Karen Citizen-Wilcox, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General announced the guilty plea. The crop assistance program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
In 2016 Gilbert leased farmland in Houston County, Alabama. Gilbert fraudulently obtained over $900,000 in crop insurance funds through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). That program exists to provide farmers of certain crops with financial protection in case of losses due to unforeseen natural disasters. Each farmer can obtain up to a maximum of just $115,000 per year in NAP assistance, regardless of whether a farmer’s actual losses exceed that amount.
To bypass the program’s individual payment limit, Gilbert obtained numerous policies in the names of friends and family members. Gilbert falsely reported to the Farm Service Agency that those friends and family members would be farming land, when in reality, Gilbert was the only one actually leasing the land. Gilbert grew tomatoes and summer squash. A drought hit and the crops failed, he filed claims on behalf of the individuals he had obtained insurance policies. As a result, Gilbert was able to receive almost nine times the maximum amount of compensation allowed under the NAP program. He used the federal funds to repay his creditor.
“Farming has long been a vital part of life in this district,” stated United States Attorney Franklin. “Farmers across the country depend on federal programs like the one in this case to survive when disaster strikes. I want the entire farming community to know that my office will investigate and prosecute all who seek to cheat the government out of crop insurance money.”
Gilbert could face a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, as well as substantial monetary penalties and restitution when he is sentenced.
This case was investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Ross is prosecuting the case.