Tomato Fraud Gets Six Years
HOST: The former CEO of one of the state’s biggest tomato companies is headed to federal prison for a six-year sentence. As KQED’s Sasha Khokha explains, he pled guilty to racketeering, price fixing, and lying about what was in cans of tomato paste.
SASHA KHOKHA: It may sound like a silly story - the great tomato caper. But the arrest of Scott Salyer, the CEO of SK Foods, rocked California’s agricultural industry. Salyer admitted to offering bribes and kickbacks to companies like Kraft and Frito-Lay so they would buy SK’s products. The company lied about how much mold was in the tomato paste and whether some of the paste was correctly labelled “organic.”
U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner helped prosecute the case.
BEN WAGNER: "People have to be able to depend on the integrity of the industry. That when they buy a product produced here in California, that they’re getting what they’re paying for, they’re not being cheated, and that there isn’t corruption and collusion going on."
KHOKHA: Eight other defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Sacramento later this month. I’m Sasha Khokha, KQED News.