Though Breitbart says the biggest revelations are yet to come, he has coauthored a report detailing some of the crime that has been directly tied to Pigford. The most sensational example comes from 2006, when a Mississippi couple was sentenced to life in prison on conspiracy charges in the murder of Clovis Reed, who had plotted with the couple to make fraudulent Pigford claims and who they feared would testify against them in court. The year before, two college administrators in Arkansas were convicted of attempting to fraudulently claim $400,000 after they attended a meeting whose organizers told them the settlement was a “veiled way to collect reparations for centuries-old grievances.”
The government is not unaware of the widespread fraud. According to an anonymous FBI source quoted in Breitbart’s report, a preliminary investigation into Pigford suggested that at least half the claims filed had been falsified — but the investigation never went anywhere, because federal prosecutors had no taste for the racial politics that would have attended it.
The USDA itself appears to have turned a blind eye to blatant irregularities. One USDA employee with firsthand knowledge of the claims process told Breitbart et al.:
“We saw claims come in from affluent areas. There were claims from Palm Beach and Palm Springs, and they said they were black farmers. One applicant said the Chicago USDA office discriminated against them. There is no USDA office in Chicago. They got paid anyway.”
Others went on record. John Stringfellow, a farm-loan supervisor covering six Arkansas counties, called Pigford “the largest scam against federal taxpayers in the history of the United States,” saying that among the 800 or so claims he personally received, over 80 percent had never applied to USDA assistance programs, nor farmed at all.