A third former official from the now defunct Adams Produce Co. has been sentenced to serve time in federal prison in relation to a scheme that resulted in the federal government overpaying almost $500,000 for fresh produce for public schools and the military.

Federal Judge David Proctor sentenced Stanley Butler March 31 to serve three-and-a-half months, followed by three years of supervised release. Butler, 43, was a purchasing agent for the Birmingham, Ala., produce company.

From August to December 2011, Butler and others at the company conducted 82 fraudulent transactions with the U.S. government, resulting in overpayment of $481,000 to Adams Produce Co., according to the sentence recommendation filed by the U.S. Justice Department.

The government requested a 10-month sentence. Butler requested probation, saying he did not receive “so much as a single cent of monetary benefit from the conspiracy,” according to court documents. Butler contends he had to participate or he would have lost his job.

Butler also must pay back the $481,000 “jointly with co-conspirators,” according to the judge’s sentencing order.

Butler’s supervisor, purchasing director David Kirkland, was sentenced March 20 by another federal judge to serve one year and one day. The additional day means Kirkland will be eligible for a 15% reduction in time served for good behavior.

Butler, Kirkland and three other former Adams Produce employees pleaded guilty and negotiated agreements with the government. The investigation into the scheme is ongoing, according to the Justice Department.

The others who have pleaded guilty are:

  •  Scott Grinstead, former chief executive officer, who was scheduled to begin serving a 16-month prison sentence on Jan. 9;
  •  Michael O’Brien, general manager for the Adams Produce distribution center in Pensacola, Fla., is scheduled to be sentenced April 3; and
  •  Christopher Pfahl, a purchasing program specialist, is set to be sentenced April 22.