About a third of Farm Bureau members don’t exist


Posted by
Wed, March 16, 2011


About 300 of the San Mateo County Farm Bureau’s 1000 members appear to have been falsified by former executive administrator Jack Olsen in a effort to earn his recruiting bonus.

This was part of the revelations of beloved civic leader Jack Olsen’s alleged misdeeds finally revealed by the Farm Bureau and reported by Julia Scott in the County Times.

When the Farm Bureau started digging into its records, it found more than missing money. Directors discovered that about 300 members were unaccounted for—because they didn’t exist.

According to Pastorino, Olsen led the board to believe that the farm bureau had about 1,000 members, but the number is closer to 700. Members enjoy benefits such as car insurance, a health plan and discounts on everything from hotels to propane deliveries.

Olsen was apparently using credit card payments to send annual membership dues to the Farm Bureau office in Sacramento, but made it look like there were more members so as to meet a recruitment goal. Pastorino explained that local Farm Bureau administrators could earn bonuses for meeting or exceeding an annual membership goal. He said Olsen could earn up to $3,500 per year by exceeding this goal.

“It seemed like we were always making goal—but he was using Farm Bureau money to make goal,” [Former Farm Bureau President Stan] Pastorino said.

Those manipulations are reflected in the nonprofit’s most recent budget report, filed after a careful financial review following Olsen’s death. Revenues from membership dues and assessments slid to $73,679 from $130,444 the year before.


I am confused, or at least, perhaps, merely mystified.

Did Olsen allegedly embezzle money from the Farm Bureau, then take that money and return it to the Farm Bureau in the form of dues payments for people who didn’t actually exist - 300 of them! - all to earn an annual bonus of just $3,500?  That’s quite a lot of thieving to earn not very much money.

And were the membership roles of the Farm Bureau open or closed to other members?  It seems like it would be hard to hide 300 non-existent members “in plain sight” of the 700 actual members.  Wouldn’t somebody notice hundreds of people who know one actually knew, and who never appeared anywhere?

These explanations spur more questions.

Those are both good questions.

You’d think that the someone would want to meet those 300 San Mateo County farmers, or wonder who they were. Also, I wouldn’t think that managing the identities, mail, and applications for 300 fake members is worth $3,500—let alone taking the risk of embezzling.

Maybe I’m just to lazy to be a beloved civic grifter.