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Two Western Kentucky men plead guilty to grain elevator scheme

Two men plead guilty to wire fraud following an elevator scheme
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 9:58 AM CDT
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PADUCAH, Ky. (WBKO) - In the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division, Gerald Kent Kingston, 61, of Elkton, and Bobby Joe Merrick, 72, of Princeton, pled guilty Wednesday to stealing over $350,000 from a Lyon County grain elevator company.

According to court documents, Kingston was formerly employed as manager at Gavilon Grain, which operates a grain elevator in Eddyville.

Merrick is a local farmer who contracted with Gavilon Grain to sell his corn, wheat and soybeans at the grain elevator.

According to documents, between Sept. 19, 2016, and May 5, 2021, Kingston and Merrick devised a scheme to defraud Gavilon Grain by creating multiple scale tickets for each truck load of crop that Merrick delivered.

Kingston electronically submitted the scale tickets to Gavilon Grain’s headquarters in Nebraska for payment.

The scheme caused Merrick to be paid twice for each truck load of crop he delivered.

During court proceedings, Kingston and Merrick admitted that Merrick was paid $354,870.11 for phantom loads of product.

After receiving payment from Gavilon Grain, Merrick would make a cash payment to Kingston.

Kingston and Merrick both pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud.

As part of the plea agreement, they will be required to pay $354,870.11 in restitution to Gavilon Grain.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 24.

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