A former Clinton County grain elevator operator has been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution for mail fraud.
John Kniepmann, 48, of Breese, was sentenced Tuesday in Clinton County Circuit Court in Carlyle by Judge Dennis Middendorff, just two weeks after being sentenced in federal court, where he received a 15-month prison sentence and was ordered to pay $108,482.40 in restitution on two counts of mail fraud.
All of the charges stem from when he operated the Carlyle-based Grain Exchange LLC and Consolidated Exchange. Grain Exchange LLC and Consolidated Exchange Inc., which Kniepmann operated in Carlyle, Bartelso, Germantown and Sandoval, have since been sold.
Kniepmann already had pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding and withholding information from the Illinois Department of Agriculture and a bank during an 11-month period in 2007 and 2008. During his plea, Kniepmann admitted that in December 2006, he falsely increased an insurance claim by $34,400 regarding a fire at his former grain elevator, Consolidated Exchange in Carlyle.
On the state charges, he admitted to defrauding the First State Bank of Eldorado by selling $87,161.76 worth of grain that was collateral for a loan taken out by his businesses, Consolidated Exchange Inc. and the Grain Exchange, LLC, and then hiding the sale from the bank that was holding the loan.
The state and federal prison sentences are to be served concurrently, rather than back-to-back. Kniepmann is to surrender to a U.S. marshal's custody and is expected to serve the federal portion of his sentence at either the prison in Marion or Terre Haute, Ind. The court's order in the federal case doesn't specify when he is to begin his sentence; it states that he is to report to the prison "as notified by the U.S. marshal."
Federal prosecutors say Kniepmann used proceeds from the frauds to pay personal debts and for vacations and building a home in Breese.
In the ruling handed down Tuesday in circuit court, $933,872.41 of the ordered restitution is to be paid to the Illinois Grain Insurance Fund and the remaining $400,527.67 is to go to farmers and other claimants involved in the case.
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.