August 07, 2009

Department of Agriculture Holds Administrative Hearing Regarding Gieseker Grain Case

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) - The Missouri Department of Agriculture today held a public administrative hearing in Martinsburg, Mo. to determine the validity of claims, the applicability of the grain dealer's bond and give claimants the opportunity to ask questions related to their claims in the T.J. Gieseker Farms & Trucking grain case. The administrative hearing officer will determine if the proposed settlement provided by the Department of Agriculture is equitable given the assets and claims. The Department of Agriculture received 180 claims from farmers affected totaling over $27 million. Grain, grain-related assets and an irrevocable letter of credit seized in February by the Department of Agriculture totaled $532,720.

"The farm economy is built on trust. For centuries, Missouri farmers have relied on a firm handshake and a promising word. When the trust is broken, entire farm communities are affected," said Dr. Jon Hagler, director of the Department of Agriculture. "Our hearts go out to the many farm families affected by this case. Today's administrative hearing was but one necessary step towards bringing this case to a resolution."

On Feb. 18, the Department of Agriculture suspended the grain dealer's license of Cathy Gieseker. With assistance from the Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the Department of Agriculture petitioned the Circuit Court of Audrain County on Feb. 20 to seize assets including grain and grain-related articles of T.J. Gieseker Farms & Trucking. The Department of Agriculture's Grain Regulatory Services auditors and staff have logged 1500 hours since that time documenting claims and answering farmer's questions.

Last month, Attorney General Koster charged Cathy Gieseker with 12 felony counts for cheating farmers and lying to state authorities to cover up her crimes. In addition, a federal grand jury has indicted Cathy Gieseker on multiple counts including mail fraud, wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.

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