Thursday, January 21, 2021

Beef fraudsters get Trump pardon

 Three of the 70 pardons departing President Donald Trump granted on Tuesday were for members of the beef-farming Jorgensen family of South Dakota.

They were convicted of what is basically fraud in sales of meat products by Dakota Lean, Inc.

They formed the company in the mid-1980s to market beef from their farm, which was the largest Angus breeding business in the United States, and invited local cattlemen to join.

The aim was to increase profits and reduce risks by vertically integrating from cattle ranching into beef slaughter, processing and marketing.

Demand proved so strong that they cheated by adding commercial beef trim that was from cattle that did not comply with the standards they advertised in their marketing brochures.

Gregory Jorgensen, who headed the fourth-generation business, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, Martin Jorgenson to 15 months and Deborah Jorgenson to 12 months. They appealed their conviction and sentences and lost.

Trump’s pardons were to them and their late father, Martin Jorgensen.

The application for pardon included a brief from South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Senator Mike Rounds who wrote that the Jorgensens had an exemplary record of service to their community.

Since their convictions in 1996, the Jorgensen’s have served their community devotedly, the politicians wrote. 

Gregory was elected twice to the Tripp County Board of Commissioners and spearheaded infrastructure projects to improve access for Native American communities. 

Deborah is a lifelong member of a non-profit dedicated to promoting educational opportunities for women. 

Martin was named National Beef Cattleman’s Association Businessman of the Year. 

The Jorgensens have shown remorse for their previous action, and in light of decades of exemplary public service, they are well deserving of these pardons, they wrote.