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Farmer in Milk Watering Case to Avoid Jail After Settlement
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/17/2008

One by one, the farmers who were involved a complex scheme to water down their milk several years ago are having their cases go through the legal system. On Wednesday, Gary Schumacher of Stetsonville agreed to pay a financial settlement in order to avoid jail time after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. In return, he will pay Mullins Cheese an undisclosed amount of money.

The agreement came prior to the start of the third day of a five-day trial in Marathon County Circuit Court this week. According to Gannett News, Schumacher's charge will be dismissed if the restitution is paid within one year. He will also be dismissed in the civil case Mullins has filed against him and the others to be heard later this year. If Schumacher does not pay, he could face 90 days in jail.

As Wisconsin Ag Connection had been reporting, eight separate dairy farmers and a milk hauler were accused of cooperating together to defraud Mullins Cheese from June 2003 through June 2004. The operation was discovered when Mullins' owner was tipped off from one of his field representatives that some milk he was receiving was being diluted with water, and the plant was paying premium milk prices for that milk.

During surveillance of one of the farms, investigators found a bulk tank full of pale, foamy milk.

Schumacher is the second producer to have his case finalized. In early December, Robert Thell of Colby was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading no contest to six charges of misdemeanor theft by false representation. The others who were involved in the scheme will have their cases brought to trail throughout this month.

Meanwhile, a three-week jury trial is scheduled for May 2008 in a civil case Mullins Cheese has filed against the men.

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