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Mondavi Is Punished for Espy Gratuities

July 22, 1998|Associated Press

Robert Mondavi winery has agreed to pay $120,000 as punishment for improper gratuities--$394 in wines and food--it gave former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. The settlement, filed in federal court in Washington, also requires that Mondavi, which had more than $300 million in sales last year, embark on a $30,000 public education campaign at a California business school focusing on government ethics. Espy, who resigned from the Cabinet in late 1994, visited the Mondavi winery in Oakville in October 1993 to examine damage being caused by phylloxera, an insect pest that attacks grape plants. The secretary was there to promise some federal aid for losses. Espy himself is awaiting trial on charges of illegally accepting gifts from several companies regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc. He has pleaded not guilty. Mondavi's shares rose 38 cents to close at $30.13 on Nasdaq.

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