A Colorado man was convicted Feb. 2 of mail fraud when he tried to sell the same tractor to multiple buyers across state lines.Benedict T. Palen, Jr., 63, of Denver faces up to 20 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, as well as up to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg said Palen, acting through his company, Great Plains Farms, sold a John Deere tractor to a buyer in Holdrege for $45,000, representing it to be free and clear of liens in September 2012.
The buyer mailed a $20,000 check to Palen as a down payment, and on the same day, Palen sold the same tractor to an individual in South Dakota, Gilg said.
Further investigation revealed that there was a lien against the tractor with a Kansas bank, and, the same tractor was sold in 2011 by the defendant, as vice-president of Pull Pans, Inc., to a company in Florida, Gilg said, citing court records.
When Palen had not delivered the tractor to the Holdrege buyer by April 2013, Palen claimed there was a discrepancy in the number of hours on the tractor and modified the agreement to provide for delivery of a different John Deere tractor. The buyer mailed a $25,000 check to Palen for the remaining amount due.
However, this alternate tractor was also sold in 2011 by the defendant, as vice-president of Pull Pans, Inc., to the Florida company, Gilg said.
Sentencing is set for May 5.
This case was investigated by the Postal Inspection Service.