Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough farm owners to plead guilty to fraud

TAMPA — The owners of two prominent Hillsborough County strawberry and pepper farms have agreed to plead guilty to more than $1-million in crop insurance fraud and lying on income tax returns, according to federal court records filed Thursday.

Goodson Farms owner Janet Goodson and D & K Farms owners Darryl Williams and William Keith Williams each face up to three years in prison. Both companies face maximum fines of $500,000.

Gary Trombley, an attorney for Goodson and her company, said his clients' plea agreement is the result of more than three years of cooperation with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"We believe the agreement is something that's fair to both sides and will bring closure to something that has been going on for a while," Trombley said. "This will put this matter behind us."

Court records show that between March 2001 and September 2004, Goodson Farms, which operates out of Balm, lied about damaged crops to obtain nearly $1.1-million in federal crop insurance payments. The company had harvested crops it claimed to be damaged and sold them for profit, prosecutors said.

Janet Goodson, president of Goodson Farms, has agreed to plead guilty to filing a false tax return in 2004. Court records show she failed to report cash sales of peppers made to produce buyers and at small roadside stands at the edge of the farm.

Court documents also name the estate of Donn Goodson, who ran the farm with his wife Janet until he died in a helicopter crash behind his home in 2003.

D & K Farms, which operates out of Plant City, filed false insurance claims for strawberries and peppers between July 2001 and June 2003, prosecutors said. That helped the company fraudulently obtain more than $400,000 in federal crop insurance payments.

The Williams brothers have agreed to plead guilty to filing false tax returns in 2004. David Weisbrod, attorney for D & K Farms president Darryl Williams and the company, declined to comment.

According to Darryl Williams' plea agreement, he reported his taxable income for 2004 as $38,590 when it actually was about $94,283. An IRS investigator discovered that Darryl Williams failed to report more than $200,000 in income over a four-year period, the plea said.

For his 2004 taxable income, William Williams reported $29,829, when it actually was about $89,699, according to his plea agreement. Like his brother, William Williams also failed to report more than $200,000 in income over a four-year period, court records show.

Timothy Fitzgerald, William Williams' attorney, declined to comment.

The Goodson family has farmed in the Balm and Wimauma community for more than 25 years. Trombley, the company's attorney, said he doesn't expect the criminal case to change that. "Goodson Farms is a very well-established farm in the city and in the marketplace, and this agreement will have no effect or impact," Trombley said. "This is something we are pleased to put to bed."

Sentencing dates have not been set.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story. Kevin Graham can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Hillsborough farm owners to plead guilty to fraud 10/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008 6:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  4. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  5. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement


    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)