The U.S. Justice Department charged 29 people in the Florida Panhandle, including a federal official, after a months-long investigation into “widespread public corruption” over misused federal farm money.
During a Friday news conference in Panama City, Florida, federal authorities described a scheme that defrauded taxpayers of more than $373,000 intended for drought-stricken farmers.
At the center of the federal investigation is a county-level director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, Duane Edward Crawson, who authorities said masterminded “a broad-based conspiracy to steal government drought assistance funds and hide the actions through identify theft, tax evasion, and other federal crimes with a criminal network of more than two dozen other people.”
Authorities said Crawson devised a kickback scheme in which he and his co-conspirators submitted fraudulent drought assistance claims.
This article has been summarised, the full original article can be found at apnews.com