June 14-- Bacon County farmers Julian Rigby, Jasper Allen and Benjamin Swain, as well as several entities owned by Rigby, agreed to pay up to $675,000 to resolve allegations that they violated and conspired to violate the False Claims Act.
This settlement is the first False Claims Act recovery involving the United States Department of Agriculture’s crop insurance program in the history of the Southern District of Georgia.
This settlement resulted from an investigation initiated by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). On July 1, 2016, the United States filed an action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia captioned United States of America v. Julian Rigby, et al., 5:16-CV-53.
In its complaint, the United States contended that Rigby, Allen and Swain misrepresented and conspired to misrepresent the individuals who had an insured interest in an attempt to obtain more favorable coverage. The United States also alleged that, after filing a claim for losses they supposedly suffered, Rigby, Allen and Swain submitted and conspired to submit false and fraudulent documents to the USDA to ensure payment.
Acting United States Attorney James D. Durham said, “The federal crop insurance program serves an important role supporting farmers who suffer crop losses due to natural disasters. This United States Attorney’s Office will root out anyone who seeks to manipulate the crop insurance program for personal gain.”
“Today’s announcement shows how, working alongside our partners in the Department of Justice, we will ensure the integrity of the crop insurance program for American taxpayers and producers alike,” said Heather Manzano, Acting Administrator for USDA’s Risk Management Agency.
The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability, the government said.