Written by The Business Journal Staff
Federal authorities arrested a Selma woman Wednesday on suspicion of $790,000 worth of fraudulent crop insurance claims.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allege that 34-year-old Jatinderieet Sihota had filed insurance claims for crop losses between November 2013 and September 2016, according to a press release from Phillip Talbert, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.
Sihota operated her family’s farms in Fresno and Tulare counties that produced table grapes, plums and other crops. Crop losses had been reported through the Federal Crop Insurance Program for reasons such as excessive heat, rain and more that didn’t occur, the release stated.
Crops were sold through fruit brokers in the Central Valley distributing to supermarket chains and other third-party buyers.
Sihota and others are accused of altering reports regarding the varieties and quantities of the crops sold. Sihota then confirmed the incorrect information when investigators called contacted her about the discrepancies, the release stated.
Sihota is facing charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
If convicted, Sihota could face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge.