- Jatinderieet “Jyoti” Sihota, 34, a farmer in Tulare County,California, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, as well as mail fraud for submitting fraudulent crop insurance claims.
Federal prosecutors have indicted an Indian American woman from Selma, California on allegations of crop insurance fraud. Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert of the Eastern District of California announced the indictment of Jatinderieet “Jyoti” Sihota, a Tulare County farmer. Sihota, 34, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, as well as mail fraud for submitting fraudulent crop insurance claims totaling more than $790,000, as per a DOJ press release.
According to court records, from at least November 2013 through September 2016, Sihota controlled her family’s farms in Fresno and Tulare Counties that produced table grapes, plums, and other crops. The crops were sold through fruit brokers in California’s Central Valley to supermarket chains and other third-party buyers. The indictment said throughout the period, Sihota and others caused her family’s farms to obtain federally backed crop insurance policies through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency’s Federal Crop Insurance Program. “They then submitted fraudulent insurance claims for crop losses due to excessive heat, rain, and other reasons that did not actually occur,” the indictment says.
“Sihota and others, including individuals at the produce brokers through which the crops were sold, altered records to misrepresent the varieties, quantities, and other information regarding the crops that were sold and submitted the records to the insurance program to support the fraudulent claims. These misrepresentations established sufficient crop losses to obtain insurance payments. When the insurance loss adjusters contacted Sihota and others to confirm the accuracy of the representations, they confirmed that the representations were accurate and complete, but in actuality, they were not,” the indictment says.
If convicted, she faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the conspiracy and mail fraud charges.