Salesman Took $480K in Bribes from Farmer

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former manager at one of the nation's largest grain cooperatives has reached a plea agreement on charges that he accepted $480,000 in bribes from an Iowa farmer in exchange for deep discounts on crop seed.

Chad Hartzler, former sales manager at West Central Co-Op in Ralston, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Sioux City for a plea hearing Thursday.

He was charged last week with wire fraud. His attorney, Chris Cooklin, said Wednesday that his client has reached a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the detail of which have been filed under seal.

A charging document says Hartzler accepted $480,000 in bribes from 2005 to 2011 from Lake View farmer Bill Wollesen.

Wollesen hasn't been charged and denies any wrongdoing, saying the payments weren't bribes.

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