Salyer gets 6 years in prison - The Packer

Salyer gets 6 years in prison

02/12/2013 02:49:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Scott Salyer, former owner of SK Foods LP, was sentenced to six years in prison for racketeering and price fixing.

Judge Lawrence Karlton sentenced the tomato grower and processor Feb. 12. Salyer faced 4-7 years after pleading guilty last March. Since then he has lived under house arrest in Pebble Beach, Calif. — time that will not count against his sentence.

Salyer, 57, is scheduled to begin his sentence April 9, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. After prison, he has three years of supervised release.

The judge also ordered him to forfeit $3.45 million. A restitution hearing is set for March 9.

Salyer was owner and chief executive officer of Monterey, Calif.-based SK Foods from 1990 to 2009. The company, which declared bankruptcy in 2009 and was later purchased by Olam International, had additional facilities in Lemoore, Williams and Ripon, Calif.

In his plea, Salyer admitted to prompting broker Randall Rahal to pay bribes and kickbacks to purchasing officers for Kraft Foods, Frito-Lay, and B&G Foods — all customers of SK Foods — over a four-year period. The intent, according to court documents, was to induce Kraft’s Robert Watson, Frito-Lay’s Richard Wahl, and B&G’s Robert Turner to promote SK Foods’ interests over their employers’ interests.

Lab test results for tomato paste were routinely falsified at Salyer’s direction, according to the plea. Former employees Alan Huey and Jennifer Dahlman were ordered to falsify tomato paste grading factors, and SK Foods lied about its product’s percentage of natural tomato soluble solids, mold count, production date and status as organic or conventional.

An illegal target price agreement was discussed with other tomato paste sellers. According to the court record, Salyer got a co-conspirator to agree to withdraw a lower offer to a customer.

“Salyer and his co-conspirators ripped off consumers and reaped big profits by manipulating prices on millions of pounds of processed tomatoes,” Jose Martinez, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation arm, said in a news release.

“This case is ending, but our efforts to ensure the integrity of the agriculture and food processing industry in this region will continue,” Wagner said in the release.

Supporters of Salyer established a website at dubbed “Scott Salyer: Operation Rotten Tomato.”

According to court documents, in late 2009 Salyer moved more than $3 million to Andorra and made a $50,000 deposit on a condominium there. Andorra, a principality between France and Spain, has no extradition treaty with the U.S. Salyer was arrested in February 2010 upon arriving in New York on a flight from London.

Ten other defendants have pleaded guilty in the case. Two have been sentenced and the remaining eight are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 26.

Comments (13) Leave a comment 

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Dean Gilbery    
February, 12, 2013 at 05:22 PM

why is he wering a $ 5 dollar wig if he had all of that money?

Kurt Wilk    
USA  |  February, 12, 2013 at 10:02 PM

This answer is obvious, but not politically correct. Maybe Sayler will get to enjoy some processed tomato products in Prison.

Chris Sawyer    
Candler, NC  |  February, 13, 2013 at 09:50 AM

How much of this time was for falsifing organic produce I wonder, I know a lot of this is going on and little to nothing done about it? I hope they throw the book at all of 'em. A concerned Organic grower, certifed 14 years.

CA  |  February, 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Really, Scott was a scape goat and if "ANY" of you really know the inside scoop, then, you will know that there are other large tomato processors that were behind this an they themselves "control" the market place; politicians; and certain financial institutions that are heavily involved in the ag industry. Now, I am NOT saying that Salyer was innocent, simply that these business customs are practiced EVERYDAY by merely EVERY large company. Surely you're not going to hear the words "bribery" or "racketeering" but rather things like "paid membership to your local country club", or "paid entry to the next Regatta race with a new yacht added". This is nothing new. Sometimes, the senior buyers make a helluva a lot more than VP's or Presidents.

CA  |  February, 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Regardless of how guilty he may or may not be on all charges, we do know his actions and greed left alot of employees high and dry - no job, no final pay check, no severance, no medical insurance. He got to sit it out in Pebble Beach while they all hit the streets on unemployment looking for a new job. I do not feel sorry for him in the least.

CA  |  February, 13, 2013 at 11:44 AM

You know, it wasn't meant to influence or change your views or for you to feel sorry for him. Rather, it happens, unfortunately it happened in your area and more to the point, to you (from the sound of it), GET OVER IT. Save your energy in being BITTER, and, learn from this and focus on the more positive outlook. If you still feel that your bitterness is overpowering you, file a labor suit against the banks that took over the business of Salyer. Point of reference, the bank did not file the appropriate warning with the state as required by law and therefore any and all employees left out in the cold, deserves certain compensation. Have a great day!! :)

USA  |  February, 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Just take a look who is crying loudest against any law or enforcement, if it's COOL or FSMA!

CA  |  February, 13, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Is there any conviction for the buyers from Kraft, Frito and B& G? They are as guilty as Scott Slayer.

Mike Hornick    
CA  |  February, 13, 2013 at 12:12 PM

All 3 buyers entered guilty pleas in 2009.

merced, calif  |  February, 15, 2013 at 07:57 PM

He was a astute businessman......wheeler dealer.....just had to take a shortcut????Some of his competitors cannot cast any stones.

Guadalajara  |  February, 16, 2013 at 04:22 PM

That's easily fixed: Prosecute ALL of them and build more jails, if needed.

modesto  |  February, 19, 2013 at 08:25 AM

that is correct!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

San Jose  |  March, 18, 2013 at 06:15 PM

Monika ??? Pretty obvious

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