Federal grand jury indicts Adams Produce official

08/29/2013 05:19:00 PM
Coral Beach

A federal grand jury has indicted a fifth official from the defunct Adams Produce Co. LLC in relation to a conspiracy to defraud the government by over charging for produce.

Michael O’Brien, formerly general manager of the Adams Produce distribution center in Pensacola, Fla., faces a 37-count indictment, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham, Ala. If the maximum sentences and fines are imposed, O’Brien could face a 670-year sentence and $9.25 million in fines.

Four other former Adams officials, including chief executive officer Scott Grinstead, have already pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in the case.

Grinstead was to be sentenced earlier this year but was granted a postponement so that he could gather $450,000 he agreed to pay former Adams workers. His sentencing is set for Oct. 29. He faces up to 25 years in prison.

The Adams Produce workers found themselves suddenly unemployed and owed back wages when Grinstead and other company executives unexpectedly closed the firm and filed for bankruptcy in April 2012.

The other former Adams officials who have already pleaded guilty in the case are purchasing director David Kirkland, purchasing program specialist Christopher Pfahl and Stanley Joel Butler II, who was a purchasing agent for the Birmingham, Ala.-based company.

As general manager of the distribution center in Pensacola, O’Brien’s duties included determining the prices the company charged the U.S. for fresh fruits and vegetables. Adams bought the produce from TLC, Marietta, Ga., according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

In their guilty pleas, some of the Adams officials admitted to overcharging the government hundreds of thousands of dollars for produce that went to military bases and schools. O’Brien faces one charge of conspiring to defraud the federal government, 32 counts of wire fraud or aiding and abetting wire fraud and four counts of false claims or aiding and abetting false claims.

Adams Produce was founded more than 100 years ago as a family-owned business. The family sold the company to executives and a private equity firm in 2010.



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