February 25, 2009
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster says his office has opened an official investigation into an Audrain County grain dealer over concerns that millions of dollars owed to local farmers may be missing.
"My office will do everything in its power to protect the farmers who have done business with this company and are owed money," Koster said. "A grain dealership is like a bank, and its owners make a legally-backed pledge to secure the money and assets of the farmers who have entrusted them with their business."
Representing the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Koster on Friday obtained a court order seizing the financial accounts of T.J. Giesecker Farms and Trucking and T.J. Giesecker Trucking LLC. Both companies are owned by Cathy Giesecker, and the operations are in Martinsburg. A routine audit by the department last week showed discrepancies in Giesecker's financial records, leading department auditors to request assistance from the Attorney General's Office. Koster says financial accounts, loan paperwork and other relevant documents have been seized, and forensic accounting will begin immediately.
The Attorney General's involvement in the case will take three forms:
A public meeting was held Wednesday in Martinsburg with potential victims in the Giesecker matter and other interested members of the community. Doug Ommen, Chief Counsel of Koster's Consumer Protection Division, was in attendance to gather facts and listen to victims' concerns.
Lead: Koster says he's more concerned with getting the farmers' money back than punishment.
OC: These farmers
Lead: Koster hopes the state legislature considers increasing the bond required by grain dealers so that money is available to cover situations like this.
OC: you've got it