Witmer’s civil lawsuit may be over but allegations continue to surface

SALEM, Ohio — Two more people have come forward with allegations against Mike Witmer, owner of Witmer’s Feed and Grain, and Witmer’s ex-employee Donald Curfman.

A civil lawsuit between Witmer’s Feed and Grain and Donald Curfman settled earlier in February. Terms of the lawsuit were not disclosed.

Statements presented

Samuel R. Shasteen Sr., of Kensington and his ex-wife, Diana Shasteen, of Washingtonville, presented Farm and Dairy with copies of witness statements given to a detective with the Beaver Township Police Department (Mahoning County) and a special investigating agent with the USDA Office of Inspector General Feb. 22.

The statements are dated Sept. 5, 2008.

Both investigators confirmed the copies were the statements presented by the Shasteens, given as part of an ongoing federal investigation. The investigation information has reportedly been presented to a federal prosecutor, however, no indictments have been issued.

In the statements provided by the Shasteens, both claim to have been approached by Curfman approximately 10 years ago while picking up pig feed at the Columbiana location.

The statements give details about their involvement in an alleged money scheme involving Witmer’s Feed and Grain.

The couple did say they never sold grain to Witmer’s Feed and Grain.

Neither of the Shasteens would comment further on the information contained in the statements nor give any other details.

Why come forward?

When Farm and Dairy asked why the Shasteens decided to come forward and distribute this information, Mr. Shasteen said he felt what happened to Curfman wasn’t right and that he [Curfman] was not in charge of the scheme.

Background

According to the civil lawsuit filed in July 2008, Witmer’s Feed and Grain demanded more than $25,000 in collections and assets owned by Curfman that they believe to have been purchased with the money gained through an alleged scheme. The lawsuit also sought assets owned by Curfman, including a home built in 2006, which caught fire May 7, 2009.

Alleged scheme

According to the lawsuit filed, Curfman was accused of issuing grain tickets to Belinda Ingledue, of Minerva, without actually receiving any grain from her, as part of a scheme to defraud Witmer’s. The alleged thefts are believed to have occurred from 2003 to 2007. The duo are alleged to have split proceeds totaling more than $900,000.

However, Curfman has claimed several times in conversations with Farm and Dairy he was not alone in the plan.

Grain tickets

Curfman was also accused of issuing fake grain tickets to himself between 2004 and 2008 and collecting more than $200,000 in compensation.

The civil lawsuit says Witmer’s began questioning Curfman Jr. about the grain shortage in November 2005 after a fake paper trail was allegedly created by Curfman to account for the grain transfers that never happened.

That lawsuit also named Curfman’s wife; his brother, Richard Curfman, because it alleged that both knew of the thefts, and Ingledue of Minerva.

The lawsuit against Ingledue and Richard Curfman has also been settled, but the terms have not been disclosed.

Other side of story

Witmer was called and given the chance to comment on the allegations in the Shasteens’ statements. Witmer’s attorney, Michael J. McGee, was faxed a copy of the statements by the Farm and Dairy but declined comment on his client’s behalf.

McGee said they reviewed the settlement agreement and decided they can’t comment due to the confidentiality agreement signed by both parties as part of the civil lawsuit between Witmer’s and Curfman.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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