Whiteville farmer pleads guilty to mail fraud

Erin Smith Staff writer

April 17, 2014

WHITEVILLE — John Paul Smith, a farmer and grain broker who once operated grain elevators in Clarkton and Whiteville, was sentenced in federal court Thursday after entering a guilty plea to charges of mail fraud.

According to reports, Smith served as a broker for Murphy Brown LLC purchasing corn, soybeans, and wheat from area farmers for the company. Smith would enter information regarding the crops he purchased for Murphy Brown into an electronic system, according to court records.

Murphy Brown LLC is a pork production subsidiary for Smithfield Foods.

Smith is alleged to have entered incorrect data into the electronic system, showing crops were purchased from two farmers when, in reality, he had not purchased crops from those individuals. Smith also is accused of having changed the addresses on the invoices in question so the payment checks would be sent to himself.

Smith received a sentence of two years in jail and three years of supervised probation.