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Crime

Two western Ky. men plead guilty to grain elevator scheme

Grain silos along the Mississippi River in Southern Louisiana. Greenfield Louisiana plans on installing 54 silos and a conveyor structure almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.
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Visions of America/Education Images/Universal Image Group/Getty Images
Grain silos along the Mississippi River.

Two western Kentucky men plead guilty in federal court Wednesday for stealing over $350,000 from a Lyon County grain elevator company. The scheme was carried out by Gerald Kent Kingston of Elkton and Bobby Joe Merrick of Princeton.

According to a press release from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Kingston was formerly employed as a manager at Gavilon Grain, which operates a grain elevator in Eddyville. Merrick is a local farmer who contracted with Gavilon Grain to sell his corn, wheat, and soybeans at the grain elevator.

From September 2016 to May 2021, Kingston and Merrick carried out a scheme to defraud Gavilon Grain by creating multiple scale tickets for each truckload of crops that Merrick delivered. The release stated Kingston would then electronically submit the scale tickets to Gavilon Grain’s headquarters in Nebraska for payment. The scheme allowed Merrick to be paid twice for each delivery of crops.

Through court proceedings, Kingston and Merrick admitted to Merrick being paid $354,870.11 for the phantom loads of product.

Kingston and Merrick both pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud. As part of the plea agreement, they will be required to pay back the full amount of payments Merrick received through the phantom truckloads.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on August 24, 2022 by U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell, who will determine any sentence each receives after considering the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other factors.

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