Judge Rejects SW MI Farmer’s Plea Deal
A former Southwest Michigan farmer, accused of a massive fraud scheme, is now facing a trial later this year. A plea agreement is being thrown out by a federal judge. Michael Stamp had earlier agreed to a plea deal with federal prosecutors for a five-year prison term. He’s accused of orchestrating a huge fraud scheme targeting banks and the US crop insurance program. The losses are estimated in the $20 million dollar range. His former farm operation was known to virtually everyone in Decatur. The farm’s grain elevators tower over the town of about 2 thousand in Van Buren County. But U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney is ruling the five years agreed to by Stamp and prosecutors falls far short of what Stamp should serve. The Judge figures the former prominent Decatur farmer should serve between 12 and 15 years in prison. The judge is ordering a trial for Stamp to begin later this year. A plea deal involving Stamp’s wife is also under review.