(UPDATED COVERAGE, MAY 8) Federal prosecutors announced another guilty plea in an ongoing investigation into tomato industry price fixing.
The plea agreement was reached with Robert Turner Jr., a B&G Foods Inc. employee who admitted accepting $65,000 bribes from food broker Randall Lee Rahal.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento said Turner was a corporate purchasing manager for B&G Foods, Parsippany, N.J. Turner admitted to receiving $65,000 while at B&G Foods and Nabisco from Rahal, a former sales broker for SK Foods, a tomato processor based in Lemoore, Calif., and parent company to Salyer American Fresh Foods, Monterey, Calif.
“Turner admitted to depriving B&G Foods of its right to his honest services by steering contracts for processed tomato and other food products to SK Foods rather than industry competitors in return for the bribes, and by securing contracts between his employer and SK Foods for the sale of certain food products at inflated prices,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown in a statement.
According to SK Foods’ attorney, Malcolm Segal, Rahal was never an employee or director of SK Foods, but worked as an independent commissioned broker. Segal said in a statement Rahal “owes SK Foods substantial sums of money for unearned commissions he received from the company.”
Rahal pleaded guilty to racketeering, price fixing, bid rigging, and contract allocation conspiracies, among other charges, in December. SK Foods and SS Farms LLC filed suit against Rahal on May 6, alleging he defrauded both companies out of $2 million. In late April, SK Foods also lost its bid to recover $600,000 the government seized from Rahal last year.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Turner faces a maximum of up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 4.