Farm fraud charges dropped
Steven Huber walked from a federal courtroom a free man Friday. For two years the 28-year-old Fargo insurance agent faced charges that he conspired with his father, Duane Huber, and four others to defraud farm programs of millions of dollars. At ...
Steven Huber walked from a federal courtroom a free man Friday.
For two years the 28-year-old Fargo insurance agent faced charges that he conspired with his father, Duane Huber, and four others to defraud farm programs of millions of dollars.
At the close of prosecutors' case Friday, U.S. District Judge Rodney Webb ruled that the government didn't present sufficient evidence to show that the younger Huber intentionally participated in a scheme to defraud the government.
Steven Huber faced seven charges, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, filing false income tax returns and money laundering.
"It's absolutely the right ruling," Huber's attorney Richard Henderson said.
"This has been a horrible nightmare for Steve Huber for the last two years," Henderson said. "It's an enormous relief to him, his wife and his family that he's been acquitted."
The government's case against Duane Huber continued Friday.
Prosecutors say Duane Huber owned and controlled farms that on paper appeared to be run by his son and four other men.
He is accused of using sham farms to evade payment limitations for federal farm subsidies and crop insurance benefits.
Steven Huber participated in the scheme by falsifying tax returns and U.S. Department of Agriculture documents to show he was actively engaged in farming when he was not, an indictment said.
But Henderson said Steven Huber was 14 years old when the alleged conspiracy began in 1988.
Steven has little interest in the family farm and gave his father power of attorney to manage land that his father bought him, Henderson said.
Duane Huber, of Wimbledon, testified Friday, saying he agreed to rent land, machinery and guarantee operating loans to four men who wanted to farm in east central North Dakota.
Huber, 58, said the men still owe him for the use of his machinery.
Jeff Greff, Huber's brother-in-law, testified Monday that he didn't make any decisions regarding his 3,000-acre sham farm in Stutsman County.
Greff said a checking account to operate the farm was also controlled by Huber.
Greff said he funneled farm program funds and crop insurance benefits to Huber in exchange for about $3,000 a year.
The payments were misrepresented on checks as settlements for machinery and land rent, he said.
Huber testified Friday that he took control of Greff's farm account for about 18 months because he had loaned Greff money to operate the farm and suspected the loan was being mismanaged.
"Because I had my name on a $300,000 account at Farm Credit (Services) and I wanted to see that bills were paid," he said, while questioned by his attorney, Irv Nodland of Bismarck.
Huber faces 20 charges, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and filing false income tax returns.
Huber will likely testify again Monday and could face questioning by prosecutors.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526