Central Kentucky farmer allegedly got $2.6 million through insurance fraud

A tobacco field in Central Kentucky.
A tobacco field in Central Kentucky.

A Paris farmer with operations in several Central Kentucky counties grossed $2.6 million through fraudulent crop-insurance claims and other illegal acts, a federal grand jury has charged.

Ronnie Jolly, 46, was indicted March 1 but the charges were sealed until Tuesday.

Jolly owned or rented farm land in Bourbon, Scott, Bath, Fleming and Montgomery counties and was a major producer of tobacco, corn and soybeans, according to the indictment.

Jolly allegedly lied to insurers by turning in less crop production than he really had and filing insurance claims based on the falsified, lower yields.

He allegedly sold the excess crop production in other people’s names or under fake names, including Fred House and Jon Brown, profiting both from false insurance claims and the sale of the unreported commodities, the indictment said.

In 2012, for example, Jolly produced 41,767 bushels of corn but reported only 11,833. He sold the unreported corn under two other names, including that of his minor son, and received an insurance payment of $347,191, according to the indictment.

Jolly allegedly sold 59,580 pounds of tobacco in 2014 under his sons’ names, but reported only 26,082 pounds, receiving an insurance payment of $183,624, the indictment charged.

Jolly allegedly also took out insurance in other people’s names to avoid scrutiny of his claims.

The alleged illegal acts took place from late 2010 through early 2016.

Jolly faces a total of 31 charges, including conspiracy; making false statements to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and companies it insures; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; money laundering; and purposely keeping bank withdrawals to less than $10,000 to avoid reporting rules.

The most serious charges carry sentences of up to 30 years.

The government is seeking to take 375 acres in Bourbon County from him, as well as the contents of a bank account. The indictment did not list a value on the account.

The indictment also seeks a judgment of $2.6 million from Jolly, representing the approximate amount he allegedly received by making false statements on bank loan applications, mail fraud and other crimes.

Jolly is to be arraigned later this month. An indictment tells only one side of a story.