Indicted California grower Scott Salyer has asked a federal court to clear the way for him to access $1.3 million in an Andorra bank account.
The money is needed for his legal defense and for personal and family expenses, according to papers filed by his attorney Malcolm Segal at U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Calif.
On Jan. 18, Judge Lawrence Karlton asked federal prosecutors to file a response to Salyerâs request within five days. A court hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Salyer, former owner of Monterey-based SK Foods, has been confined to his Pebble Beach home since September. He spent seven months in jail before securing bail.
Last year, Salyer pleaded not guilty to federal charges of racketeering, wire fraud and falsifying corporate records. The prosecution came out of a probe â dubbed Operation Rotten Tomato by the Federal Bureau of Investigation â of price-fixing, bribery and misbranding in the tomato-processing industry.
SK Foods declared bankruptcy in 2009 and was then purchased by Olam International.
The $1.3 million came from a settlement with the trustee handling SK Foodsâ bankruptcy regarding wastewater discharge from the companyâs processing plants to growing operations owned by trusts for Salyerâs children, Caroline Salyer and Stephanie Salyer. The money belongs to the trusts. Robert Pruett, trustee for the children, supports its use in Salyerâs defense, court papers say.
Release of the funds would also require approval by authorities in Andorra, a small country bordered by Spain and France. The account was frozen at a time when prosecutors said Salyer was a flight risk.
When Salyer left Sacramento County Main Jail in September, Segal said it would take his client at least a year to prepare for trial.