Michigan farmer Michael Stamp is facing time behind bars. Both Michael Stamp, and his wife Melissa Stamp, entered separate plea agreements with U.S. attorneys this week in a bankruptcy case dating back to 2012.
Michigan Farm News reported both Michael and Mellissa Stamp, of Decatur, Mich., plead guilty to charges related to crop insurance and bankruptcy fraud. The plea deals come with reduced sentences. Without pleading “guilty” and agreeing to a deal, both were scheduled to go to trial in May. If found guilty in trial, the Stamps could have faced a maximum 30-year prison sentence. Instead, Michael Stamp now faces up to five years in prison, while Melissa could spend up to three years in jail.
Court documents show Michael Stamp agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with two or more members to commit bank fraud, while providing false statements. A guilty plea for crop insurance fraud is also included in the plea deal. With the new plea, court documents show Michael faces up to five years in prison, supervised release for three years, a fine of $250,000 and will be required to pay full Mandatory Restitution.
In late 2017, a 14-count federal indictment was filed, which stemmed from his 2012 bankruptcy, accused Stamp of federal crop insurance. Other counts on the indictment included conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, issuing false statements and reports, federal crop insurance fraud and bankruptcy fraud.
The original 41-page indictment accused Stamp—who owned Stamp Farms, LLC.—of falsely claiming he farmed 44,000 acres in order to secure a loan from Wells Fargo. The Feds also claim Stamp hid assets from the bankruptcy court including his pulling-tractor named “Ghost Rider,” and funneled money to friends and family to hold until a later date.
Two other men - James Becraft and Douglas Diekman - were initially indicted on federal charges along with Stamp. . In total, court documents allege the federal crop insurance fraud scheme cost Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), insurance companies and the United States $414,000 in losses. However, in October 2018, the two co-conspirators changed their plea to “guilty” to conspiracy to make false statements to the FCIC. The decision came with a plea bargain, which helped federal authorities build a bigger case against the Stamps.
Court documents show Becraft was an employee of Stamp Farms and was responsible for coordinating and maintaining crop insurance coverage. The courts say Diekman owned and leased farm ground.
In addition to Michael’s plea this week, court documents also show Michael’s wife, Melissa, plead guilty to knowing of the commission of a felony without notifying authorities as soon as possible. Authorities claim Melissa didn’t notify authorities about the Stamp family hiding $40,000 from Wells Fargo, the creditor in which the Stamps were accused of bankruptcy fraud.
Under the new deal, Melissa could spend up to three years in jail, no more than one year of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and Mandatory Restitution She already admitted to concealing money from Stamp’s bankruptcy. She was sentenced in May 2015 to 20 months in prison.
Final sentence hearings for Michael and Melissa Stamp based on the latest plea agreement are scheduled for Aug. 19.