Sustainable farming organization now under scrutiny

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For funds recoupment in Ponzi scheme

By Stan Welch

The ripples from the Ron Wilson Ponzi scheme continue to spread, as federally appointed receiver Beattie Ashmore pursues his court ordered pursuit of any assets that can be found and recouped.

The latest efforts are directed at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and Dianna Vossbrinck, who is listed as a staff member on various CFSA promotions and websites. Wilson was well known for his support of sustainable and organic agriculture, but the extent of that support in terms of the ill-gotten gains of his Ponzi scheme continues to be revealed.

On January 13 of this year, the United States District Court issued a Rule to Show Cause “why Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) and/or Dianna Vossbrinck should not be ordered to repay funds that represent ill-gotten monies of the fraudulent investment scheme”.

The court order reiterates that Wilson pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud on July 30, 2012; and that his company, Atlantic Bullion and Coin was the instrument of a fraudulent scheme to buy and sell silver holdings. The scheme involved hundreds of investors and tens of millions of dollars. Wilson is currently serving a nineteen year prison term in a federal prison.

The court order also points out that CFSA, over a period of six years, and ending just weeks before Wilson’s company was closed down by federal agents and its records seized, was the recipient of more than $234,000.

Records obtained from court documents indicate that the majority of the monies went to CFSA, a 501 (c)(3) entity located in Pittsboro NC. Prior documentation for the organization’s board of directors shows that both Wilson and Joey Preston were members of that board in 2012. Vossbrinck is listed as staff.

While Wilson was a member of the Anderson County Council, and Preston was still the county administrator, Alison Schaum, Wilson’s daughter, was employed by the county as an agricultural consultant.

Her original contract was significantly and unilaterally increased by Preston just weeks before Wilson spearheaded an effort to provide Preston with a lucrative severance package, just weeks before his employment contract expired.

An interesting detail in the latest court filing is the information that the $234,620 transferred to either CFSA or Vossbrinck, was not the result of any investment.

The monies were simply transferred, with several larger amounts being transferred in the final months before Wilson’s scheme collapsed.

More than half of the total amount, or $133,000, was received by CFSA from the end of December, 2010 to Feb. 2012.

CFSA received the bulk of the monies, with Vossbrinck personally receiving checks totaling $19,350.