A northwestern Minnesota farmer participating in a federal aid program allegedly lied to agricultural regulators about shipping moldy kidney beans to Honduras, according to an indictment unveiled Wednesday.
Thomas Matthew Chisholm, 37, was charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis with two counts of causing the issuance of false official grain inspection certificates. He could not be reached for comment.
Chisholm, of Gary, was awarded a contract in 2007 to provide dark red kidney beans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The beans would be exported to Honduras as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Food for Work program.
In March 2009, Chisholm brought 300 metric tons of beans in four lots to the USDA to be inspected for the program. After one lot passed inspection, the government alleges, Chisholm re-submitted that same batch two more times, getting two more certificates.
But Chisholm then allegedly instructed his employees to substitute uninspected -- and moldy -- beans for those two lots. When the two shipments were opened in Honduras, they were spoiled.
If convicted, Chisholm faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on each of the two counts.
Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003