The initial indictment said the loss amounted to
During sentencing, a federal judge considers not only the specific acts for which a defendant is convicted but also considers the scope of behavior involved.
"This investigation has revealed that the abuse of the crop insurance program is pervasive and severe," a government sentencing memorandum said. "Like any government benefit program, people find a way to abuse and unjustly benefit from the system designed to help those that need it."
Muse, who must report to prison on
In addition to working as a crop insurance agent, Muse was employed as a seasonal worker at
For the warehouse, Muse entered information into a software program that tracked the purchases, sales and shipments of tobacco. The government says Muse created false sales bills, shipping reports and tobacco grade reports used in filing fraudulent claims.
As a crop insurance agent, Muse obtained policies for her client farmers. Those farmers, with help from Muse, filed false claims that defrauded the government of
Co-conspiring farmers profited under the scheme because they were paid twice for each pound of tobacco: once through the false crop insurance claim and also through the sale of unreported, hidden tobacco.
Muse profited by collecting the original insurance commission, by retaining and expanding the business of her crop insurance clients, and by securing business for the tobacco warehouse. Her commissions rose from more than
The investigation into
"She continued to break the law," said Assistant
Investigators said some of the warehouse records were obviously falsified to the point of being comical. For example, one customer's name was listed as "Go Cats."
But U.S. District Judge
Hood didn't buy that argument. "She (Muse) used her skills to run this deal. She used her computer skills to do this," Hood said.
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