February 19, 2010 |
A federal grand jury has indicted former SK Foods owner Frederick Scott Salyer on racketeering and six other counts of corruption for allegedly directing a decade-long scheme to quash competition and sell tomato products at inflated prices -- a practice that led to consumers paying more at the grocery store. Salyer, a member of one of the state's most powerful farming families, was accused Thursday of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as conspiracy, obstruction of justice and four counts of wire fraud.
June 17, 2010 |
Scott Salyer stepped into the federal courtroom in Sacramento, his trim frame swimming in an orange prisoner jumpsuit, his legs shackled, his wrists restrained. It was a humiliating moment in February for the 54-year-old agribusiness mogul, the last prince of one of California's cotton farming dynasties. The tomato processing outfit he started with his father, Fred Salyer, was in bankruptcy. Scott was being blamed for running SK Foods into the ground — and far worse. Salyer clenched his jaw as the prosecutor reeled off the allegations: that he and SK Foods tricked supermarkets and big food companies into buying substandard tomato products to put into brands found in almost every American cupboard.
February 8, 2010 |
To his friends, Randall Lee Rahal was just a food salesman, someone who routinely left his home on Shadyside Road in Ramsey, N.J., to crisscross the country hawking California tomatoes. The 61-year-old sold them pureed. He sold them crushed. He sold them roasted and mashed into paste. His clients were food manufacturers, supermarket chains and other commercial buyers who turned his products into soup, ketchup and salsa. But in the eyes of the Justice Department, Rahal was Tomato Enemy No. 1 -- a produce scofflaw who allegedly peeled off $100 bills and carried cash-stuffed envelopes to bribe buyers from leading food companies in a decade-long racketeering scheme that may have led to higher prices for consumers at the grocery store.
May 5, 2010 |
Former tomato executive Frederick Scott Salyer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to antitrust charges filed by the federal government alleging a wider conspiracy to inflate prices for tomato products. The charges — part of a federal grand jury indictment unsealed last week in Sacramento — allege that Salyer conspired with others to fix prices or rig bids on moldy, overpriced tomato products that were sold to customers of his company, SK Foods. Nearly 95% of all tomatoes grown in the U.S. are processed by five companies in California, including SK Foods, which has two Central Valley plants.
April 30, 2010 |
Federal authorities filed new charges Thursday in their case against tomato scion Frederick Scott Salyer, alleging a wider conspiracy that set inflated prices for tomato products. The indictment charged Salyer, who had been head of agribusiness giant SK Foods, with five new felony counts and alleged that he conspired with others to fix prices or rig bids on products sold to three of the company's customers — McCain Foods USA, ConAgra Foods Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. Though the indictment doesn't name Salyer's co-conspirators, it could signal a push by the U.S. Justice Department to broaden its ongoing investigation into California's tomato processing industry.
February 27, 2010 |
Former SK Foods owner Frederick Scott Salyer pleaded not guilty Friday to federal racketeering and corruption charges for allegedly directing a decade-long scheme to quash competition, pay bribes and sell tomato products at inflated prices. The agribusiness executive, who entered his plea in a federal courtroom in Sacramento, is charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as conspiracy, obstruction of justice and four counts of wire fraud.