Sigourney Man Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud, Cheating on Taxes

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A Sigourney man pleaded guilty in a federal court earlier this week to mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

According to court records, Mark Lynn Haines, 48, engaged in a scheme to defraud and obtain money from 2015 to 2018 concerning sales of grain as organic, when in fact, the grain was grown in violation of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP). NOP is a federal regulatory program governing organic agricultural products.

Key among Haines’ NOP violations was the use of treated seed, which is prohibited by NOP. Haines concealed his NOP violations from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), the organic certifier. The grain was then sold by Haines to a number of unwitting purchasers.

Haines also conspired to impede and obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the assessment and collection of income taxes. Between April 2017 to April 2019, Haines obtained false invoices, backdated checks, and exchanged checks to give the appearance of an expense that was not in fact incurred. This conduct increased Haines’ expenses and decreased Haines’ federal income taxes.

Haines is scheduled to be sentenced on August 18.

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