TC couple charged in $2.7M crop fraud scheme

By DEUCE NIVEN

    A couple from Tabor City has been charged in a 19-count federal indictment in a long-running crop insurance fraud and money laundering scheme that allegedly netted them $2.7 million since 2007.
    Milton Russ Barnhill, 46, and Sharon Turbeville Barnhill, 43, were arrested Wednesday on the indictment, which was sealed after being handed up by a federal grand jury on Feb. 27, and unsealed after their first appearance in U.S. District Court in Wilmington Thursday morning, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
    Russ Barnhill is a Tabor City area farmer, his wife has operated a part-time hair salon, the indictment said.
    Both were released under unsecured bonds, court documents showed, required to give up any passports and to report to U.S. Probation offices, and not to leave the Eastern District of North Carolina without prior approval from a U.S. Probation Officer.
    Both were also specifically ordered to have no contact with any potential victims or witnesses, including Steven M. Hardwick, a Clarendon man already convicted in the long-running scheme.
    In the 68-page indictment the Barnhills are accused of defrauding the U.S. Government by making “material false statements” in connection to the filing of false federal crop insurance claims, bank loans and related mailings, to “conceal assets in bankruptcy proceedings, and to launder the proceeds and profits of the underlying fraud scheme.”
    See more on this story in the March 12 Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

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