The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

April 2, 2014

Fourth defendant sentenced in $2 million grain fraud

— A fourth defendant in a $2 million fraud committed at a grain mill in Butterfield was sentenced today to three years and one month in a federal prison without parole.

U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner assessed Lyle E. Tourtillot, 68, of Nevada, the prison term at a hearing in federal court in Springfield.

Tourtillot pleaded guilty Sept. 3 to two counts of mail fraud in a case involving co-defendants Bob True Beisly III, 40, of Nevada; Robert Bunn, 45, of Deerfield; and Jeffrey Hobbs, 41, of Exeter. The other three men pleaded guilty previously to their roles in the defrauding of Cargill Inc. the owner of the mill in Butterfield, and were sentenced to prison.

Hobbs was the scale operator and pellet mill operator of the feed mill from December 1999 through March 2013. He would weigh truckloads delivered to the mill and issue scale tickets to the suppliers making deliveries. The tickets could then be presented to Cargill’s headquarters in Minnesota for payment.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri, Tourtillot, Beisly and Bunn approached Hobbs in 2002 with a scheme to create scale tickets for fictitious loads of grain.

Beisly’s company, K&B Grain, had contracts with Cargill for deliveries of grain, corn and another product to the mill, while Bunn’s company, RB Grain, was contracted through The Scoular Company to deliver wheat, corn and other grain to the mill. Tourtillot was a driver for his brother’s company, T&T Grain, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Hobbs initially was paid kickbacks of $300 per “ghost load” of grain but later received $500 per load.

The fraud is believed to have continued for nine years before Cargill caught on and reported the crime to authorities. The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI investigated the matter.

The judge ordered Tourtillot to pay Cargill $1,012,000 in restitution at today’s hearing in Springfield. The defendants are being held jointly and severally liable for the company’s losses due to the fraud.

Hobbs was assessed two years and eight months without parole at a hearing last year and ordered to pay $2,334,180 in restitution. Last month, Beisly was sentenced to two years and 11 months without parole and ordered to pay $559,616 in restitution while Bunn was sentenced to two years and three months without parole and ordered to pay $754,564 in restitution.

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