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Judge’s disagreement with sentence ends farmer’s plea deal

Associated Press

Decatur – A judge has rejected a sentencing deal that carried a five-year cap for fraud committed by a farmer in southwestern Michigan.

As a result, Mike Stamp has withdrawn his guilty plea, and a fall trial has been scheduled in U.S. District Court, reported.

In this Jan. 4, 2005 file photo, a group of young pigs stare out of a pen at a hog farm in central North Dakota.

“Extensive fraud was committed and multiple steps were taken to recruit others into a fraud scheme that resulted in a loss of $20 million to the banks and federal government that were involved,” U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said on Jan. 22.

“The totality and seriousness of this crime is not accurately reflected in such a penalty and I do not believe would adequately deter Mr. Stamp or others from doing something like this in the future, nor is it reflective of respect for the law,” Maloney said.

Stamp had pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a scheme to defraud a government crop insurance program and lenders in Van Buren County.

“Where once the agri-business hailed him as wunderkind, he now serves as a general laborer on a pig farm,” defense attorney Scott Graham said in a Jan. 15 court filing.

Stamp’s wife, Melissa Stamp, pleaded guilty to knowing about the fraud but not reporting it.