A former Kraft Foods purchasing manager was sentenced to two years and three months in prison Aug. 11 for taking $158,000 in bribes from a broker for tomato processor SK Foods, according to a report.


Robert Watson, 59, of White Plains, N.Y., had pleaded guilty in January to defrauding Kraft by accepting bribes between January 2004 and April 2008 from Randall Rahal, then a sales broker for SK Foods, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.


Lemoore, Calif.-based SK Foods was the parent company of Monterey, Calif.-based fresh vegetable shipper Salyer American Fresh Foods, which closed its doors May 22 and soon after went into receivership after losing $13 million to $15 million in business because of SK Foods’ ongoing legal problems, according to court documents.


 


Prosecutors said the bribes ensured Watson directed Kraft to buy processed tomato products and other items from SK Foods. He also allegedly provided inside information to SK Foods that allowed the company to sell 230 million pounds of products to Kraft at inflated prices, the report said.


U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento ordered Watson to pay $1.85 million to Kraft for its losses, according to the report.


Rahal, of Ramsey, N.J., pleaded guilty in December to racketeering, bid-rigging and price-fixing and admitted bribing purchasing agents at some of the nation’s largest food companies.


He awaits sentencing along with two former SK Foods employees who pleaded guilty to other charges, the report said.