Sioux Falls man gets probation after stealing up to $100,000 or more of corn and soybeans

A Lincoln County farmer is calling the results of a multi-year court battle "bittersweet" after a Sioux Falls man was sentenced for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in grain from his operation.

On Tuesday, Seth Eickholt, 32, received a suspended 10-year prison term and was placed on probation for five years after he accepted a plea deal to one count of grand theft, according to Lincoln County Clerk of Courts.

Court records show Eickholt stole from Lincoln County farmers Mike and Larry Poppens from Jan. 7, 2020, to November 2021.

Larry Poppens told the Argus Leader that most of the stolen grain was corn and soybeans lifted from their storage sites and "straight from the field."

Larry Poppens said the value of the stolen crops was around $700,000.

As part of the plea deal, Eickholt agreed to be found guilty of fourth-degree grand theft, which covers stolen goods worth $5,000 to $100,000.

"I'm thrilled to have a felony that will be forever on his record … but, at this point in time, he's coming out minimally for (stealing) $700,000," Larry Poppens said in a phone call. "It's a substantial loss, and we've had to adjust our operations to make it work."

Larry Poppens said Eickholt, a former employee of the Poppens, started "stealing from us the first day he started to work for us" in August 2019 and persuaded "other employees" to assist in his scheme.

The Lincoln County farmer said he discovered Eickholt absconded with his grain after being told by the Eckholt's "half-sister's fiance's half-brother" that his employees were delivering the goods to a Marion elevator "that we've never hauled to."

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Sioux Falls man sentenced in Lincoln County grain theft case