Willamette Valley Grass Seed Company Pleads Guilty in Federal Court | USAO-OR


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PORTLAND, Oregon — A Willamette Valley wholesale distributor of grass seeds pleaded guilty today in federal court to knowingly covering up a scheme to defraud the Jacklin Seed Company, then a subsidiary of the JR Simplot Company.

ProSeeds Marketing, Inc., a company based in Jefferson, Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count of prison abuse or felony.

According to court documents, ProSeeds had a long-standing business relationship with Jacklin Seed Company and regularly entered into contracts with Jacklin for the purchase and sale of grass seed. These contracts were typically negotiated with an employee of Jacklin acting under the supervision of Christopher Claypool, Managing Director of Jacklin. In March 2021, Claypool, 53, of Spokane, Wash., Was sentenced fraud and money laundering for carrying out several schemes to defraud Jacklin. Claypool was later sentenced to three years in federal prison.

Beginning in December 2018, Claypool and Jacklin’s employee conspired to divert some of the overseas sales that Claypool negotiated on Jacklin’s behalf so that Claypool and the employee could earn commissions on those sales. As part of this program, Claypool incorporated Green Pyramid, LLC to impersonate an independent grass seed broker and accept payment of fraudulent commissions.

As part of the program, the Claypool-supervised Jacklin employee arranged for ProSeeds to reserve backhanded sales from Jacklin with mark-ups dictated by Claypool. Most of these markups were then sent back to Claypool. ProSeeds participated in the program with the aim of building a clientele abroad. Nonetheless, the company intended to cover up Claypool’s plan and did so.

From December 2018 to August 2019, ProSeeds recorded twelve backdoor and bogus sales, generating over $ 474,000 in profit margin on Jacklin seeds. Although the bulk of the markups went to Claypool and his subordinate, ProSeeds retained over $ 78,000 in transaction income.

On September 14, 2021, ProSeeds was charged with criminal information with prison abuse. The company faces a maximum sentence of five years probation and a fine of $ 500,000. ProSeeds will be sentenced on November 29, 2021 before US District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut.

As part of the plea deal, ProSeeds agreed to pay $ 78,775 in restitution to Simplot.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the Oregon District made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Agriculture. He is being sued by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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