February 22, 2013
A Monterey County strawberry farm owner was sentenced to a year in prison for defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture of more than $223,000 in federal crop disaster assistance money, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Salinas resident Marco Antonio Barbosa, owner of Monterey County Commercial Strawberry Farm, defrauded two federal programs—the Crop Disaster Program and the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program—claiming he had suffered crop losses because of excessive heat, the Attorney's Office said. He also falsely claimed to be farming a joint-venture instead of a corporation and didn’t disclose the full extent of his strawberry production.
The 50-year-old Salinas resident pleaded guilty in 2010 to making a false statement to the USDA, the statement said.
“Programs like the one involved here are threatened if people steal from them and don’t respect the requirements of the program,” said U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte in sentencing Barbosa.
Barbosa was ordered to pay $223,484 in restitution, was debarred from any agriculture department program or Farm Service Agency contract, and sentenced to three years of supervised release. He must report to prison by April 23.