Woman defrauds farmers, to be sentenced Thursday

Thursday, February 25, 2010 | 9:22 a.m. CST; updated 10:26 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 25, 2010

ST. LOUIS — A Missouri woman will be sentenced in federal court Thursday for a grain fraud scheme that bilked farmers out of at least $27 million.

Cathy Gieseker of Martinsburg pleaded guilty to one felony count of mail fraud in November and could get up to 20 years in prison. She could also face a fine of up to $250,000, though the judge is expected to waive the fine so all of Gieseker's money can go as restitution to the victims.

Gieseker used a Ponzi scheme to defraud 180 farmers out of at least $27 million in proceeds from grain sales she made on their behalf. The scheme began in 2002 and collapsed last February. Farmers were left with neither grain nor payment.

Gieseker also faces state charges.

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