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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A Columbus County man has pleaded guilty to federal crop insurance fraud.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker says 53-year-old Steven M. Hardwick of Clarendon pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to make false statements, making false statements, committing mail fraud and wire fraud and aiding the making of false statements in connection with the crop insurance program.

Walker says Hardwick faces up to 35 years in prison when he is sentenced on April 16.

The prosecutor says Hardwick owned a tree spraying and planting business and obtained crop insurance policies for tobacco, soybean and peanut crops he never grew.

Walker says the fraud engaged in fraud between 2006 and 2010.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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