Three employees of now-shuttered Stamp Farms in Decatur, Mich., have been indicted on charges they conspired to commit bankruptcy and crop insurance fraud while reaping financial benefits. That’s according to documents filed March 11 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan Southern Division.
The news first broke on MLive.com, which posted a PDF of the court filing. The document also claims Robert Dennis Trowbridge, Jr.; Andrew Paul Trowbridge; and Larry Stambeck conspired to make false claims to investigators.
“Through 2012 … [they] were employees of and friends of Michael David Stamp. As a result, they knew that Michael Stamp was in financial trouble; that Michael Stamp was unable to pay his bills; that Michael Stamp had filed a bankruptcy case in his own name; and that bankruptcy cases had been filed in the name of his former corporate farming businesses,” the filing states.
The incidents covered in the indictment allegedly occurred over a period of nearly four years, from about October 2010 to about July 2014.
A 2012 Top Producer of the Year finalist, Mike Stamp grew corn and soybeans along with operating an elevator, Northstar Grain. In an October 2012 profile, Top Producer noted impressive growth from a single semi to 40,000 acres in less than a decade. Yet less than a month later, news of serious financial problems began to emerge. The farm owed tens of millions of dollars to more than 200 creditors.
Stamp Farms LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2012. The farm and surrounding land were sold. In June 2013, Cargill reached an agreement to acquire grain storage and crop inputs assets of Northstar.
As the case unfolded, Top Producer columnist Chris Barron, also a Top Producer of the Year judge, stressed the importance of avoiding excessive risk during periods of growth. "Growing pains not handled can become growing cancers," said Barron, an Iowa farmer.
The Top Producer team will continue to follow the story and provide updates at www.TopProducer-Online.com/Stamp.