- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Trial is set to begin for two North Dakota brothers accused of intentionally destroying potatoes and defrauding the federal government out of about $2 million in crop insurance payments.

Aaron and Derek Johnson, of the Cooperstown area, are charged with conspiring to receive illegal payments by intentionally damaging the spuds. They have pleaded not guilty.

The Johnsons are accused of applying chemicals to the potatoes and using portable heaters in the warehouse in order to accelerate deterioration. The government says once the potatoes rotted, the men reported the loss to their insurance company and said the crop was lost due to naturally caused diseases.

A defense attorney says the brothers may be guilty of bad farming practices, but that is not illegal.

Jury selection is scheduled Monday in Fargo.


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