PROSECUTOR: Tobacco Farmer Pleads Guilty To Scheme

A local tobacco farmer is awaiting his sentence after pleading guilty in what prosecutors call a scheme to rip off insurance companies.

Dennis Hawley of Wilson is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting the making of materially false statements in connection with the
Federal Crop Insurance Program. Federal prosecutors say Hawley and other tobacco growers engaged in a scheme to defraud crop insurance companies of funds that get reimbursed by the federal government.

Hawley didn't fill out a conflict of interest form, which prosecutors say allowed him to collect $38,000 between 2005 and 2006.

“All government programs, whether Federal Crop insurance or other programs, must be conducted free of actual or perceived conflicts of interest. Here, the defendant failed to disclose a critical conflict of interest and he benefited substantially. We look forward to the sentencing phase of the case where these wrongs can be addressed,” said U.S. Attorney George Holding in a press release.

Nine others are charged in the same scheme.

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