If you still have doubt that the federal budget can be cut, consider this crop insurance fraud ring — busted right here in eastern North Carolina.
Those prosecuted in North Carolina raked in millions for years without detection until 2005, when prosecutors say USDA auditors used computer software to mine insurance claims data from across the country for outliers. Among the names identified was Robert Carl Stokes, a Wilson crop insurance agent whose clients appeared to have consistently horrible luck.
Through prosecuting Stokes and his immediate co-conspirators, authorities were led to dozens of others involved in similar frauds throughout eastern North Carolina, with crooked claims adjusters and tobacco brokers working with multiple insurance agents and their farmer clients. The USDA’s Office of Inspector General said the recent string of crop insurance convictions in eastern North Carolina eclipses similar investigations anywhere else in the United States.