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Southwest Minnesota farmer sentenced to prison for USDA farm loan fraud

Engelkes was sentenced on April 1, nearly five years after officials from the USDA learned he had removed pledged grain without prior approval and sold it.

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MINNEAPOLIS — A resident of Slayton was sentenced to 12 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and $435,517.78 in restitution for converting collateral that secured loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a press release from US Attorney Andrew M. Luger with the United States Department of Justice.

According to court documents, in October 2015, Mark Alan Engelkes, 54, pledged 15,641 bushels of soybeans as collateral to the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation in order to obtain loan proceeds of nearly $80,000. During the application process for the CCC loan, Engelkes agreed to not move or dispose of the collateral until the loan was paid in full.

However, in April 2016, officials from the USDA learned that Engelkes had removed the pledged grain without prior approval and sold it. In addition to the USDA CCC loan, Engelkes also defaulted on other farm financings from USDA, resulting in a total loss amount to the government of $435,517.78.

On Oct. 21, 2021, Engelkes pleaded guilty to one count of conversion of USDA CCC crops. He was sentenced on April 1, 2022, by Chief U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Middlecamp and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary Taylor.

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