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Potato farmers to appeal crop insurance fraud to appeals court

FARGO -- Aaron Scott Johnson of Northwood, N.D., a farmer convicted of defrauding the federal crop insurance program by purposefully damaging potatoes in storage, is appealing his conviction.

FARGO -- Aaron Scott Johnson of Northwood, N.D., a farmer convicted of defrauding the federal crop insurance program by purposefully damaging potatoes in storage, is appealing his conviction.

Briefs are filed and an oral argument date has been tentatively set March 18 at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St .Paul . Attorneys have 15 minutes to argue their case.

Last March, Johnson and his brother, Derek, both were convicted in the case, and Aaron was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for the fraud, and for making false statements to the government. Aaron claimed crop insurance losses between 2002 and 2006 and argued that damage was because of natural causes. Derek, who had been living in Canada, did not appeal his 14-month conviction.

According to court briefs, public defender Sarah Yarney of Fargo will argue that the government's witnesses against Aaron were inconsistent and unreliable, and the conviction based on extremely limited, circumstantial evidence.

Related Topics: FRAUDAGRICULTURE
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