GREENEVILLE — Two Washington County men and a Unicoi woman have been indicted on federal charges stemming from a scheme to submit more than $178,000 in false crop insurance claims to the U.S. government.
Glenn Martin Jr., of Limestone, his ex-wife Janet Garland of Unicoi and her brother Joseph Matchett of Washington County were indicted earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. The three-count indictment charges the three with conspiracy and submitting false crop insurance claims; Martin also faces a charge of concealing assets during bankruptcy.
According to the indictment, Martin arranged for Garland and Matchett to become tobacco producers in 2009 and agreed to finance all of the farm’s expenses, including obtaining crop loss insurance through the Rural Community Insurance Service. Crop loss insurance is provided for under federal law and is meant to cover crop losses due to drought, flood or other natural disaster.
From December 2008 through January 2012, the three defendants made false statements and reports to the RCIS for losses that were not eligible for crop insurance.
In March 2009, under the direction of Martin and Garland, Matchett applied for and received crop loss insurance on 73 acres of land in Washington County, falsely claiming he was the tobacco farmer on the property.
Four months later, Matchett submitted a report with the RCIS claiming he had planted tobacco at the Tipton, Clinic, Gary Stout and Mitchell farms, when in fact he had not. In October 2009, Matchett filed paperwork claiming his entire tobacco crop was destroyed by severe weather.
In March 2010, the RCIS approved the claim and paid Matchett just over $164,000. Over the course of a month, Martin and Garland paid Matchett $15,000 for his role in the scheme, in three increments of $5,000 each.
Martin filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2008 and prosecutors say Martin procured crop loss insurance in the names of others to defeat collection by the U.S. government of a civil judgment exceeding $30 million.
That judgment was the result of Martin concealing his ownership of and participation in tobacco production in an attempt to evade federal income taxes.
Court records state Martin was deposed in an adversary proceeding in his bankruptcy case and falsely denied the scheme to defraud the U.S. government with the false crop loss insurance.