Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman
Facing incarceration for his role in masterminding a $142 million organic grain fraud scheme, organic farmer and trader Randy Constant was found dead by suicide on August 19 at his home in Chillicothe, MO. Constant was sentenced on August 16 by a federal court judge to 10 years in prison for knowingly marketing and selling non-organic corn and soybeans as organic. Federal prosecutors called the scheme “one of the largest, if not the largest, organic fraud schemes in the history of the United States.” Police officers found Constant dead from carbon monoxide poisoning weeks before he was to report to federal prison. Prosecutors alleged that Constant falsely marketed non-organic grains as certified organic on a massive scale, reported Time Magazine. Sales through his Iowa grain brokerage equaled up to 7% of the organic corn grown in the U.S. in 2016 and 8% of organic soybeans. From 2010 to 2017, Constant was reported to have sold over 11.5 million bushels of grain, primarily used as feed for chickens and cattle, which would then be unwittingly marketed as organic meat products by the respective producers. Constant’s death came as authorities publicized his prison term, which they hoped would deter other farmers from defrauding the National Organic Program, reported Time Magazine. Judge C.J. Williams said during the sentencing hearing that Constant’s fraud did “extreme and incalculable damage” to consumers and undermined public confidence in the nation’s organic food industry.