The former general manager of an Adams Produce Co. distribution center is set to go to trial in February in federal court in on criminal charges in relation to a scheme to defraud the government by overcharging for produce.
Michael O’Brien faces a 37-count indictment with a possible 670-year prison sentence and $9.25 million in fines in connection to the scam, which has already generated plea agreements from four other top officials of the defunct Birmingham, Ala., company.
Former Adams Produce chief executive officer Scott Grinstead is among those who have negotiated guilty pleas with the Department of Justice in relation to the case.
A federal judge sentenced Grinstead Oct. 29 to serve 16 months in prison, beginning Jan. 9, followed by three years’ supervised release. Grinstead pleaded guilty to wire fraud, failing to report the scheme to defraud the government and failure to file income tax returns.
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 Adams Produce distribution center in Pensacola, Fla., 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.