A federal judge this week sentenced Melissa Sue Stamp to 20 months in prison for her role in the Stamp Farms bankruptcy fraud. She is the wife of Michael D. Stamp, the entrepreneur behind the now-dismantled Stamp Farms in Decatur, Mich., and pleaded guilty in December 2014.
It represents the latest development in the saga of Stamp Farms, which was a Top Producer of the Year finalist in 2012. At that time, Michael D. Stamp appeared to be an ambitious and innovative farmer who had grown his company to more than 40,000 acres. Also among its holdings: Northstar Grain, which Stamp purchased in 2007 and upgraded in terms of capacity and rail connections.
But the success story unraveled on Nov. 30, 2012, when the family’s businesses--Stamp Farms Trucking, Stamp Farms Custom Ag, and Royal Star Farms—filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with more than $50 million in liabilities.
Since then, many of the assets have been sold—and indictments announced. In March 2015, federal prosecutors charged three employees with conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and crop insurance fraud. There have been no indictments against Michael D. Stamp.
"Bankruptcy can be a haven for those in need of its protection. Individuals that abuse the bankruptcy process by concealing assets threaten the integrity of the system,” said Jarod J. Koopman, special agent in charge, IRS criminal investigation, in a statement announcing Melissa Stamp’s sentence.
As part of her plea, Melissa Stamp admitted to hiding money from the bankruptcy court, including $50,000 in cash in her house and two checks totaling $165,000, which she gave to her brother and father. The judge sentenced her to 20 months in prison and 20 months of “supervised release.” She will also have to forfeit $151,915 in proceeds from the fraudulent bankruptcy and pay $184,500 in restitution, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Michigan.
Melissa Stamp will be under house arrest until October, when she is scheduled to begin serving her 20-month federal prison sentence. Her attorney had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
Prosecutors are continuing to look for assets related to the Stamp Farms case, including cash, grains, crops, and farm equipment. “Persons who knowingly conceal assets belonging to a bankruptcy case are subject to criminal prosecution,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. MacDonald. “Persons who voluntarily surrender concealed bankruptcy assets may avoid criminal charges.”