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Louis Business Journal February 21, 2003
Tennessee man pleads guilty of stealing Monsanto seed
A man from Tennessee has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud
Monsanto Co. by stealing patented cottonseed. Kem Ralph of Covington,
Tenn., pleaded guilty to a one count information charge of conspiracy
to commit mail fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of five years
in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, and is scheduled to be sentenced
May 7. Restitution is mandatory. The value of the loss as a result
of his conduct is $165,649.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Friday that in 1999, a friend
of Ralph's grew a cotton crop using Monsanto's cottonseed containing
Roundup Ready and Bollgard traits. The seed was sold pursuant
to technology agreements that prohibited the seed from being used
for later planting. Following the 1999 harvest of the cotton,
a truckload of cottonseed was extracted from the harvest and transported
to a company in Kennett, Mo.
The cottonseed was treated and bagged for replanting in the 2000
growing season, in violation of the technology agreement. Ralph
mailed documentation to the company that the seed belonged to
him in order to conceal the transaction from Monsanto, the U.S.
Attorney's Office said. St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON)
develops insect- and herbicide-resistant crops and other agricultural
products. © 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.