Three Central Kentucky farmers plead guilty in crop insurance fraud case

Three Central Kentucky farmers have pleaded guilty to charges related to crop insurance fraud.

Bradley Price, 34, of Carlisle, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, but will likely be less under advisory guidelines.

His brother Brandon Price, 27, and their father Jimmy Price, 57, also of Nicholas County, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

The top sentence on that charge is five years.

The Prices pleaded guilty Thursday in Lexington before U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell.

The three raised tobacco in Nicholas County, and two also had tobacco in Bourbon County, according to court records.

The indictment in the case charged that they gave false information to insurance companies, claiming they grew less tobacco than they actually did in order to get insurance payouts.

They allegedly gave the extra tobacco to another person, who sold it for them in return for keeping 30 percent of the proceeds. That person was identified in court documents only by the initials E.P.

To cover the scheme, Bradley Price wrote a check matching the sales price of the tobacco to Clay’s Tobacco Warehouse, and then a person at the warehouse wrote checks that E.P. applied to Price’s bank account, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr.

That meant Price got paid for the tobacco and also received an insurance payment based on a claim of damage to the crop, according to the release.

Brandon and Jimmy Price acknowledged giving blank checks on their accounts to Bradley Price to further the same arrangement for their tobacco.

Court documents say the three have forfeited bank accounts, but don’t list the amounts. The government was seeking $264,352 from Bradley Price; $110,257 from Brandon Price; $110,526 from Jimmy Price.

The three are to be sentenced in January.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a number of other charges in return for the men pleading guilty.

Charges are pending against a fourth man in the case, Lonnie Brierly.

His attorney has argued that an evaluation showed Brierly has a poor grasp of financial matters, raising a question on whether he could have formed the intent to commit fraud that would be required for a conviction.

The case is one of several in the last few years alleging crop insurance fraud in Central Kentucky.