Missouri Mom Who Defrauded Farmers Out of $27M Gets 9 Years

March 1, 2010

A Missouri woman was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for a grain fraud scheme that bilked 179 farmers out of a combined $27.4 million and earned her the nickname the “Madoff of the Midwest.”

Cathy Gieseker, 45, of Martinsburg, pleaded guilty to one felony count of mail fraud in November. U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw also ordered Gieseker to pay restitution to the victims, though he doubted she could ever come up with such a large amount of money.

“These people trusted you,” Shaw told Gieseker at the hearing. “You took advantage of them.”

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster in July 2009 charged Gieseker with 12 felony counts for deceiving the farmers and misleading state authorities to cover up her crimes. According to Koster, Gieseker sold grain for farmers through her two companies, T.J. Gieseker Farms and Trucking and T.J. Gieseker Trucking LLC, both of Martinsburg.

The state alleged that Gieseker routinely promised farmers she could sell their grain at an amount higher than the going rate, or that she could sell their grain under a delayed price and deferred payment contract. In fact, in numerous instances Gieseker sold the grain at the going rate, and then did not pay the farmer.

In court, Gieseker read a statement in court apologizing to the victims and to her family, including her two daughters who sobbed as the sentence was read.

“All of these people were like family to me,” Gieseker said of the victims. “I never intended to hurt anyone.”

She said she will do everything possible “to make sure they are paid what they are owed.”

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