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Grain elevator owner guilty of fraud, faces 30 years in prison

John R. Coleman pleads guilty to wire fraud for manipulating financial statements and deceiving farmers, leading to Express Grain's bankruptcy.

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Arek Socha | Pixabay

John R. Coleman, 47, of Greenwood, Mississippi, pled guilty to wire fraud in a case involving altered financial statements and deception towards farmers. The hearing, presided over by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills in Oxford, revealed Coleman's fraudulent activities as an owner and operator of Express Grain.

Court documents indicate Coleman falsified the company’s audited financials to secure a State warehouse license, lied about the debt on grain at the facility, and misled farmers about Express Grain's financial health. The company's eventual bankruptcy in 2021 led to significant financial losses for farmers across the Mississippi Delta.

Coleman now faces up to 30 years in prison, with sentencing scheduled for June 13, 2024. U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner emphasized the need for accountability due to the fraud's severe impact on farmers. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch acknowledged the collaborative effort between state and federal law enforcement in achieving this conviction.

The case is being investigated by several agencies including the FBI, Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, USDA Office of Inspector General, and IRS Criminal Investigations, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Clayton A. Dabbs prosecuting.

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