- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A judge has issued an order prohibiting two brothers convicted in a federal crop insurance case from contacting witnesses called by the government.

A jury last week found Aaron and Derek Johnson guilty of conspiring to receive illegal payments and giving false statements. Authorities say the Cooperstown-area farmers illegally collected about $2 million after intentionally destroying potatoes and claiming the damage occurred naturally.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson says the brothers cannot contact government witnesses unless lawyers from both sides are present.

The jury deliberated for about five hours before returning their verdict early Friday evening. A sentencing date has not been set.

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