SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A Salinas Valley businessman pleaded guilty to federal charges of defrauding organic farmers of $6.5 million by selling synthetic fertilizer he claimed was organic.
Peter Townsley, owner and operator of California Liquid Fertilizer, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
The plea came after a 2-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FBI.
Townsley, 50, a Canadian citizen, faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fines for each count, at his June 13 sentencing.
Prosecutors said Townsley’s business “realized over $6.5 million in gross sales from the sale of Biolizer XN,” the fertilizer Townsley misrepresented.