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3 Sentenced in Price-Fixing Plot at Archer Daniels

Crime: Two former execs get prison terms, fines. A third, who aided FBI in probe, has 20 months added to his nine-year theft term.

July 10, 1999| From Bloomberg News

CHICAGO — Three former Archer Daniels Midland Co. executives, including the son of former longtime Chairman Dwayne Andreas, were sentenced to prison for their roles in a global conspiracy to fix the price of lysine, an animal feed additive.

Michael Andreas, 50, and Terrance Wilson, 61, a former ADM division chief, received identical sentences of 24 months in prison and $350,000 fines.

Michael Andreas is a former ADM vice chairman and had been considered likely to succeed his father as head of the big Decatur, Ill., grain and soybean processor.

Mark Whitacre, 42, a former ADM division chief who became an FBI mole, was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Whitacre already is serving a nine-year prison term for stealing millions of dollars from ADM and has been ordered to pay $11.4 million in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning ordered Whitacre to serve 10 of the months concurrently with his present sentence and 20 months in addition to it.

The former executives faced a maximum of three years in prison and $350,000 fines each. Last month, Manning ruled that prosecutors did not provide enough information about the defendants' criminal activities to warrant stiffer penalties.

The convictions of the former executives by a federal jury in September capped a three-year FBI investigation of ADM and its foreign rivals in the $600-million world lysine market. As part of the probe, Whitacre secretly taped meetings of ADM and rival executives for 2 1/2 years.

ADM itself pleaded guilty in October 1996 to fixing the price of lysine and citric acid, which is used in soft drinks and other products, and paid a then-record $100-million fine.

In a phone call from prison that was broadcast in open court, Whitacre said before his sentencing that "the Justice Department would have had no case" without his cooperation. "I risked my life and career for them," he said.

Judge Manning acknowledged Whitacre's cooperation but nonetheless tacked more time onto his current sentence.

During the seven-week trial last year, prosecutors portrayed Wilson as the conspiracy's mastermind. Michael Andreas gave final approval to the price-fixing plan, they said. Whitacre headed the division that made the lysine.

In arguing for less than the maximum sentences, Andreas' attorney, Jack Bray, and Wilson's attorney, Reid Weingarten, tried to paint a picture of a government investigation that had gone out of control and was manipulated by Whitacre.

Bray suggested that prosecutors went after Andreas because of his famous name.

Dwayne Andreas, 81, known for his political connections both domestically and abroad, served as ADM's chairman for 28 years before stepping down in January in favor of his nephew, Allen Andreas. He had turned the position of chief executive over to Allen in April 1997.

However, the judge said she believed Michael Andreas and Wilson's participation in the conspiracy was as great as anyone's.

Attorneys for Andreas and Wilson said they plan to appeal the sentences. Bill Walker, Whitacre's attorney, also said he may appeal the added jail time.

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