Honesty is always a good business policy

09/21/2012 08:40:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Mike Hornick, Staff WriterMike Hornick, Staff WriterSome “creative accounting practices” have afflicted Merced County agriculture, and it did not escape the attention of county authorities that the targets of four recent embezzlement prosecutions were all women who worked for growers or processors.

They noticed it because the predominance of women was unusual — unusual in the embezzling trade, but evidently common where that trade is plied in agriculture.

“It’s kind of strange because it’s usually men who commit all these crimes,” said Matt Serratto, Merced County deputy district attorney.

“My boss said it seems like a highly disproportionate number of women doing this in agriculture. Certainly more men than women embezzle, except in this case.”

Perhaps they were striking a blow for equality.

But there’s some distance to go before meeting the bar set by men for white collar crime.

Remember Scott Salyer?

Where I live — Monterey County — people can’t forget him, hard as they try. The name conjures memories of price fixing, bribery and mislabeling of products — topics addressed in his March guilty plea.

What some may forget, though, is that an embezzlement case — no women involved! — set off the fall of the house of Salyer and SK Foods.

Anthony Manuel of SK Foods confessed to embezzling about $1 million from a former employer — picture a virus spreading across companies — and became the first in a line of witnesses to rat out Salyer.

He taped conversations with Salyer in 2007 and 2008 after federal agents paid a visit to Manuel’s home in 2006.

In the Merced County cases, the plaintiff companies were Quail H Farms LLC, J. Marchini Farms, Central Valley Processing Acquisition Corp., and Weimer Farms.

Three resulted in guilty or no-contest pleas. A fourth is pending.

Spare yourself the drama.

Keep cash and accounts receivable separate. Let staff know you frown on the theft of vast sums of money or of pocket change.

mhornick@thepacker.com

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