Sharon Palmer, the Santa Paula woman who was convicted of securities fraud in 2015 has yet to be sentenced for the crime. James Stewart and Larry Otting were convicted of grand theft, and a special enhancement of aggravated white-collar crime for their role in the financing scheme for a farm that sold unpasteurized milk.
Stewart formed Rawesome Foods as a members-only cooperative, and sold raw milk produced at Palmer’s Health Family Farms. Palmer wanted to exercise an option to purchase the farm property, which she leased. Palmer, Stewart and Otting conspired to use Otting’s line-of-credit to secure funds for Palmer’s down payment on the farm. In exchange for the use of Otting’s line of credit, Palmer promised Otting the use of 10 of the farm’s 51 acres.
The trio then attracted other investors to repay Otting’s loan. Under the plan, Palmer would make the mortgage and tax payments. The investors were given unsigned deeds of trust, which proved worthless. Investors were instructed to wire the money directly to Otting, or to Healthy Family Farms in an effort to disguise the source of the funds. Palmer, Stewart and Otting knew that the bank that issued the mortgage would have denied the loan had it known that third party investments were involved in the purchase.
This is not the first time that Palmer has run into legal trouble. In 2011, she was accused of purchasing thousands of dollars worth of meat, poultry and eggs, and selling it at local farmers’ markets while claiming that the products originated from her farm, and that the animals had not been feed commercial feed products. In addition, Stewart was accused of illegally importing unpasteurized milk from Pennsylvania and selling it to consumers.
Santa Paula Securities Fraud Lawyer
If you’ve been arrested for securities fraud in Santa Paula, or anywhere in Southern California, you need the assistance of an experienced securities fraud lawyer like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively in Southern California for more than 30 years, and has established a reputation as an aggressive defender of his clients’ rights.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County securities fraud case.
Photo Credit: Chiot’s Run, via Flickr.com