Spokane Area Man Pleads Guilty To Selling Fake Grass Seeds
A former manager of a Washington-based company that produced and sold grass seed and turfgrass to independent Oregon growers has admitted to deceiving growers statewide for more than $12 million. Christopher Claypool of Spokane pleaded guilty to charges in Federal Court of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Investigators say he mislabeled bags of grass seed as well ran both a pyramid and real estate investment schemes. Prosecutors will seek a four-year prison term for the 52-year-old if he follows the conditions of his pre-sentencing release, including paying $8.3 million in restitution plus unpaid taxes. Prosecutors said the various schemes ran from about 2015 through August 2019.
Claypool had worked for Jacklin Seed Co. at its headquarters in Liberty Lake, Washington. Federal prosecutors said Claypool’s schemes include packaging seed varieties with false and misleading labels, embezzling more than $12 million while posing as a foreign sales partner and conspiring with a travel agency in Spokane to inflate costs of his international travel. Claypool briefly apologized in court but was directed to withhold additional comment until sentencing. He’ll remain out of custody until sentencing but was ordered to surrender his passport.
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