For the week of June 17 thru June 23, 1998  

Carey farmer charged in federal honey for money case


By ANDREW M. SCUTRO
Express Staff Writer

j17andys.gif (15289 bytes) The entrance to the Laidlaw ranch outside Carey as it appeared in April 1996. (Express photo by Andy Scutro)

A Carey man was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Boise yesterday on a felony charge of falsifying commodity loan documents submitted to the federal government.

William "Bill" L. Laidlaw pleaded innocent to the charge and waived his right to be indicted by a grand jury when he appeared before federal District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

A trial date was set for Aug. 24. However, Winmill noted that a plea agreement is pending.

The government charged that Laidlaw unlawfully obtained price-support loans from the Farm Services Agency (FSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The government said Laidlaw indicated in loan documents that he was producing large quantities of honey and that he had the honey on hand as collateral for the loans.

The government alleged Laidlaw had claimed he was selling the honey to Franz Distributing of Seattle, Wash.

The government also alleged that Laidlaw had little or none of the honey on hand and had not sold any honey to the Washington company.

Officials would not disclose the amount of the loans involved. However, Deputy U.S. Attorney Jack Haycock said that while his office often deals with farm loan cases, they are usually handled administratively and do not result in criminal prosecution.

Laidlaw’s appearance in court was the product of a federal investigation.

In February 1996, agents from the FSA went to the Laidlaw Ranch outside Carey to inspect barrels of honey.

On Feb. 15, 1996, a deputy of the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office accompanied two FSA agents to the Laidlaw property on U.S. Route 93 at milepost 210.

By August 1996, the investigation had been handed over by special agents from the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise.

Laidlaw was represented by Hailey attorney R. Keith Roark.

 

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