The former purchasing director for Adams Produce Co. will serve a year and a day in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the federal government by faking invoices for fresh produce for the military and public schools.

Despite a request from the U.S. Justice Department to sentence David Kirkland to 21 months, U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon imposed the year plus one day term on March 19 in federal court in Birmingham, Ala.

Kirkland, who now lives in Texas, was purchasing director for the Birmingham-based produce company in 2011 when the fraud scheme was developed and executed, according to court documents. He must report June 23 to begin serving his prison term.

Kirkland and three other officers of the now bankrupt company negotiated plea agreements, including former chief executive officer Scott Grinstead, who was scheduled to begin serving a 16-month prison sentence on Jan. 9. The investigation into the scheme is ongoing, according to the Justice Department.

After he serves his prison time, Kirkland will have three years of supervised release and must pay $481,000 in restitution — “jointly with the co-conspirators” — to the federal government.

Kirkland requested a light sentence, claiming he was a minor player in the scheme, according to the Justice Department sentence recommendation. However, the government contends Kirkland was in a “managerial or supervisory role in the scheme.”

“In late July or early August 2011, the defendant participated in a meeting with the CEO, CFO, COO, and general manager of the Pensacola warehouse during which the group hatched the scheme to defraud the government, …” according to the Justice Department recommendation.

“Following the meeting, the defendant explained the scheme to Chris Pfahl and Joel Butler, two employees that reported directly to the defendant, and enlisted their participation in the conspiracy.”

Kirkland also set up the accounting function of the scheme, according to the Justice Department, which included a separate accounting entity on the Adams Produce books to track the fraudulent transactions, and issued weekly profit reports to his co-conspirators.

The other former Adams Produce employees charged in relation to the scheme and the status of their cases are:

  •  Stanley (Joel) Butler, a former purchasing agent for Adams, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and is set to be sentenced March 31.
  •  Christopher Pfahl, a former purchasing program specialist, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and is set to be sentenced April 22.
  •  Michael John O’Brien, former general manager for the Adams Produce distribution center in Pensacola, Fla., pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and is to be sentenced April 3.