March 24, 2012- On Friday, Frederick Scott Salyer, a member of a well-known farming family in the Central Valley in California, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in a scheme that intended to inflate prices in tomato products. Salyer pleaded guilty in Sacramento court to federal charges of price-fixing and racketeering.
Salyer pleaded guilty after reaching a plea agreement with the prosecution. In the agreement, he will serve four to seven years behind bars in a federal prison. On July 10, he will face sentencing. Salyer lives in Pebble Beach and is free on bail of $6 million. For 19 years between 1990 and 2009, he ran SK Foods.
He had been accused by prosecutors of organizing the payment of a number of bribes to purchasing agents of customers of SK Foods, such as Frito-Lay North America and Kraft Foods among others. This was done in an attempt to convince the companies to purchase products from SK.
Prosecutors also accused Salyer of telling his employees to falsify results from lab tests about the company’s tomato paste. He wanted the paste to qualify as being organic. He also faced charges of conspiring with his competition to inflate prices for products.
Federal authorities said they are determined to eradicate the corruption within the food industry.