Mississippi Delta grain elevator owner pleads guilty to fraud

Published 4:55 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

John R. Coleman, 47, of Greenwood appeared Feb. 23 before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills in Oxford and pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

According to court documents, Coleman, an owner and operator of Express Grain, altered the company’s audited financial statements in order to receive a state warehouse license; lied about the amount of debt he owed on grain held at the Express Grain facility; and claimed to farmers that Express Grain was financially healthy when the company was actually on the brink of bankruptcy.

Express Grain eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2021, causing widespread financial hardship for farmers all over the Mississippi Delta.

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Coleman faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Judge Mills set Coleman’s sentencing hearing for June 13 at 1:30 p.m. and will determine his sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

“The fraud committed by the defendant in this case has directly and adversely impacted a large number of farmers and it is important that he be held accountable for his actions,” remarked U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner. “I am extremely grateful for the state and federal law enforcement partnership that has made this prosecution possible.”

This case is an example of “the impact that we can make when we work together,” said Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “I am grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for securing this federal conviction. My office will continue to fight on behalf of the taxpayers and the hardworking farmers defrauded here until justice is fully served.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Clayton A. Dabbs is prosecuting the case.