USA Vs. Johnsons: Spud Crop Insurance Trial Starts Today In Fargo

The USA vs. Aaron Scott Johnson, Derek Johnson and Johnson Potato Co. starts today, Monday, Dec. 1.  Pre-trial conferences start at 9 a.m., Monday,  and the jury trial starts at 9:30 a.m. in Fargo, and are scheduled in the calendar of U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson through Friday, Dec. 12.

The potato farmers from Northwood, N.D., have pled not guilty to intentionally harming stored potatoes to gain crop insurance. On Nov. 25, Erickson granted several requests from Johnson attorneys to exclude six topics — evidence of a 1995 conviction of conversion of commodity credit corporation property; uncharged alleged criminal acts; the refusal of Aaron Johnson to submit to a polygraph;  and whether Aaron Johnson had reduced harvests during the 2002 to 2006 period.

Erickson said he may exclude testimony of a worker to community farmers  about whether Derek Johnson had “developed the idea of using Rid-X to destroy potatoes.” Erickson said evidence must show that the statements “are not hearsay.”