Grass seed manager charged with defrauding Simplot, its customers

By on Friday, February 26th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PORTLAND – U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said that Christopher Claypool, 52, of Spokane, is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering as part of multiple schemes to defraud the Jacklin Seed Company’s former owner, the J.R. Simplot Company and its customers.

Claypool was general manager of Jacklin and oversaw the company’s sales to domestic and foreign distributors. Jacklin contracted with independent growers in Oregon to produce proprietary grass seed varieties and fulfilled orders from a distribution facility in Albany.

“At some point between 2013 and 2015, Claypool and other Jacklin employees realized that growers’ preference for higher-yield grasses was creating substantial shortages of lower-yield varieties,” a U.S. Department of Justice news release states.

Claypool and others realized that the shortages would impact contracts to deliver seed to its customers which would cause the company to fail to deliver on its contracts or force the company to pay a premium to growers to acquire the necessary inventory.

That’s when Williams said that Claypool and his colleague directed employees to substitute seed that was not ordered and conceal such substitutions by using false labels. DOJ said that Jacklin invoiced customers for more than $1.1 million of grass seed that the company never delivered. It’s further alleged that Claypool engaged in several other fraudulent schemes while he was the general manager.

If found guilty, Claypool faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison, fines of more than $15 million, and five years on parole.