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URGENT: John Coleman set to change his not guilty plea in his federal criminal fraud case in the Express Grain collapse

Monday, February 12, 2024, 5:45 pm News Flash Archive

John Coleman, former president of the now-bankrupt Express Grain, has a scheduled hearing in federal district court to enter a change of plea in the criminal fraud case in the Express Grain collapse.

The hearing is set for Thursday, February 22 in the Oxford Federal Building at 9:30 am before Federal District Court Judge Michael P. Mills. The court notice of the hearing may be seen here: Notice of hearing for Change of Plea

Coleman, who was indicted in November 2022, had previously pleaded not guilty on all the fraud counts for which he was charged in both state and federal court.

Meanwhile, his fraud trials in both of the state and federal cases have been continued repeatedly at the request of his criminal defense attorney, John Colette. In some of the motions for continuance, Colette hinted that a plea deal might be in the works.

Coleman had been on the Leflore County Circuit Court's docket scheduled for his state court criminal trial on January 23 of this year. To review that docket sheet, see here: Judge Carey-McCray Docket Sheet for January 22-26, 2024

But in late December 2023, Circuit Court Judge Margaret Carey-McCray signed an order continuing his state court trial until April 16, 2024.

Coleman was charged with multiple counts of fraud relating to allegations he tampered with and falsified critical financial audit reports that he then provided to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce in order to gain license renewals for the Express Grain operations.

Additionally, Coleman was charged with providing the fake audit reports to UMB Bank, the chief lender to Express Grain. He also is alleged to have provided falsified inventory reports to UMB Bank, upon which EG's line of credit was based.

Finally, Coleman was charged with providing false information to local farmers about the stability of EG, in order to induce them to deliver their grain to the company.

When certain of these false reports and statements were discovered, EG collapsed in bankruptcy.

Even after liquidation, EG was unable to repay over $130 million in debts to farmers, other vendors, and a host of banks and financing companies.

UMB Bank, the single largest creditor, is still owed over $35 million according to its amended claim filed with the bankruptcy court.

Farmers who delivered grain to EG were cheated out of over $40 million even after the grain settlement money was distributed.

To read more of our reporting on Mr. Coleman's criminal cases, see here: John Coleman's federal criminal trial put off until November 27, 2023

Presumably, at the change of plea hearing, Coleman will withdraw his not guilty plea, and plead guilty to some charges based upon a plea agreement, the terms of which have not yet been disclosed.

In this way, the need for a full criminal trial on the federal charges will be avoided.

Usually in cases such as this, where similar federal and state charges have been lodged against a defendant, a guilty plea in federal court is soon followed by a similar plea on the state court charges.


To read all our coverage of the Express Grain bankruptcy case, see here: Index of Express Grain articles

 

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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