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NC man sentenced in huge crop insurance fraud

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina man is headed to prison for his role in a $21 million crop insurance fraud.

Jimmy Thomas Sasser of Wilson pleaded guilty Wednesday to mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiring to make false statements and to threatening a witness. A federal judge sentenced him to four years in prison, a term reduced due to cooperation with investigators that led to other convictions.

Prosecutors say the 61-year-old former insurance adjuster conspired with others from 1996 to 2007 to falsify claims of weather damage to farmers' tobacco. As part of his sentence, Sasser agreed to pay more than $21 million in restitution.

He is the latest in a string of convictions in North Carolina of insurance agents, adjusters and farmers who conspired to defraud the federal crop insurance program.