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Alleged Mount Vernon grain thief pleads no contest

The Davison County Public Safety Center serves as the home for county lockup. (Matt Gade/Republic)

A Mount Vernon man entered a no contest plea Wednesday to one count of grand theft for stealing more than $400,000 worth of grain between 2012 and 2016.

Merle Northrup, 47, entered the plea during court at the Davison County Public Safety Center.

Northrup had been an employee of Scott and David Estabrook, who are farmers operating in Davison and adjacent counties. According to Jim Miskimins, Davison County state's attorney, Northrup took several loads of corn and soybeans to Cenex Harvest States and Poet Biorefining where he cashed them in under his name and received payment for the loads totaling no less than $411,220.68.

"He did not deliver those proceeds to the owners of the grain," Miskimins said. "He kept those proceeds for himself."

The maximum penalty the court can impose upon Northrup when he is sentenced is 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Judge Chris Giles ordered a full presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for April.