Man pleads guilty to fertilizer theftA 70-year-old West Fargo man could be headed to prison for up to 10 years after acknowledging that he stole more than $642,000 worth of fertilizer over a decade.
FARGO (AP) — A 70-year-old West Fargo man could be headed to prison for up to 10 years after acknowledging that he stole more than $642,000 worth of fertilizer over a decade.
Larry James Schrader ran a business called NC Marketing that sold liquid farm fertilizer to two dealers in North Dakota and Minnesota.
In federal court Thursday, he admitted to taking the product from the former ConAgra Foods outlet in Moorhead, Minn., where he was a sales manager.
Schrader did it by telling employees not to log quantities of fertilizer he had them drain from ConAgra’s tanks several times between 1996 and 2005.
He pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a charge of transportation of stolen goods. Five other counts were dismissed.
Besides serving up to 10 years in prison, Schrader could be fined $250,000. Federal Judge Ralph Erickson scheduled Schrader’s sentencing for Feb. 10.
If convicted of all six felony counts, he could have faced up to 60 years with fines of $1.5 million.
Schrader declined comment after Thursday’s hearing. “I have nothing to say,” he said.
Federal authorities learn-ed of the scheme after it was discovered by ConAgra security staff, who confronted Schrader about the missing fertilizer, prosecutor Brett Shasky said.
The investigation re-vealed that Schrader sold the stolen fertilizer to two dealers using bogus documents that did not disclose that the shipments originated from ConAgra, he said.
The stolen goods were sold to Larson Grain Co., in LaMoure, and to Ada Feed & Seed of Ada, Minn., court records say.
“The two businesses had, to our knowledge, no knowledge or part in this,” Shasky said.
Schrader ordered employees to replace the stolen fertilizer with water in some cases, to account for the loss in volume in the tanks. Stephanie Childs, a spokeswoman for ConAgra at its corporate headquarters in Omaha, Neb., said that did not happen very often, and Shasky agreed.
“My understanding is most of the people got what they ordered,” Shasky said.