U.S. District Courthouse, Cedar Rapids

OSSIAN — Three Nebraska farmers have been charged in a scheme that allegedly passed off regular corn and soybeans as organic.

The grain was transferred to an Ossian company that marketed it as organic, according to authorities.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Iowa’s Northern District filed documents charging Tom Brennan, James Brennan and Michael Potter with one count each of wire fraud Wednesday.

Attorneys for the three waived indictment on the charges and filed notices the men plan to plead guilty, according to court records.

The charges pertain to an alleged scheme to circumvent the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, which uses third parties to certify “organic” grain is grown through approved methods without certain pesticides.

According to court records, the three operated certified organic farms as well as non-organic farms in Nebraska. Prosecutors allege the organic certification for the fields was owned by a “co-schemer” who also operated the organic grain marketing business in Ossian, which was identified in court records only by the letters “J.S.”

Court records allege the three Nebraska farmers sold non-organic grain — or non-organic grain mixed with organic grain — to the Ossian company and to others knowing it was being marketed as organic between 2010 and 2017.

Prosecutors allege the three received $2.5 million from the scheme during the seven-year period.

No other charges have been filed in connection with the investigation.

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