Benedict T. Palen, Jr., of Denver was sentenced to five years of probation Friday for selling the same tractor twice to buyers in different states, and related crimes.Palen, 63, was convicted of the federal crime of mail fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Robert C. Stuart said.
Palen was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and to pay the remaining unpaid restitution in the amount of $2,500.
In September 2012, Palen, through his company, Great Plains Farms, sold a John Deere tractor to an individual in Holdrege for $45,000. Palen represented it to be free and clear of liens. A $20,000 check was mailed to Palen as a down payment.
But on the same date, Palen sold the same tractor to someone in North Dakota, prosecutors said.
An investigation uncovered that a bank in Kansas had a lien against the tractor, and further, the same tractor was sold in 2011 by the defendant, as vice-president of Pull Pans, Inc., to a company in Florida.
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. He modified the agreement to provide for delivery of a different John Deere tractor, and the buyer mailed a $25,000 check to Palen for the remaining amount due, Pederson said in the announcement.
However, the alternate tractor had already been sold in 2011 by Palen to the Florida company, when Palan was vice-president of Pull Pans, Inc.
A similar crime occured in November 2013, prosecutors said. Palen, acting through Great Plains Farms, sold a different John Deere tractor to an individual in Bertrand. He received a down payment but did not deliver it.
This tractor also had been previously sold by Palen to the Florida company, Pederson said.
This case was investigated by the Postal Inspection Service.
"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to protect the integrity of the U.S. Mail and aggressively investigate individuals such as Benedict Palen who use the mail to defraud individuals or businesses of money and property," said Craig Goldberg, the Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service that covers Nebraska.
"We want the public to know that Postal Inspectors will aggressively pursue anyone who attempts to use the Postal Service to facilitate such frauds and we will not allow the U.S. Mail to be used to commit crimes," Goldberg said.