Corn heist yields a not guilty plea

Published 9:15 am Thursday, October 25, 2012

AUSTIN — While one person is already convicted in a January 2012 corn heist scheme in Blooming Prairie, an alleged accomplice from Austin recently pleaded not guilty in the same case.

Arnold Edward Schwamm, 74, pleaded not guilty on Oct. 15 in Steele County District Court to felony charges of theft and conspiracy to commit theft.

Jeana Faye Anderson, 51, of Dodge Center, pleaded guilty in March for her involvement and was convicted on Sept. 24 for one count of felony theft. She was sentenced to five years’ supervised probation, 120 days in jail and fined $50.

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According to the court complaint, Schwamm and Anderson had a plan to steal 14,000 bushels of corn from Vavra Farms in Blooming Prairie. The owner of the corn, however, suspected two of his employees would steal from him and already notified authorities, according to the Steele County District Court complaint. Furthermore, a citizen informant whom Schwamm and Anderson thought would assist in the heist told authorities about the details.

Schwamm reportedly told the informant they would steal the corn when the owner was out of town and that the owner would not notice 14,000 missing bushels as it would appear the corn had dried and shrunk in the bin.

The informant notified police shortly before the theft at about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 31. The informant drove the semi truck and estimated he allowed Schwamm to fill the first truckload with more than 500 bushels of corn, which is roughly worth $3,000. The entire amount they planned to steal — 14,000 bushels — is roughly worth $84,000. Officers pulled into the grain bin site during the attempted theft and arrested Anderson and Schwamm.

During an interview, according to the court complaint, both Anderson and Schwamm admitted to stealing the corn.

Schwamm has a settlement conference set for April of next year in Steele County District Court.