‘Tomato King’ Gets Six Years in Bribery, Racketeering Case

Frederick Scott Salyer

A food processor known as the “Tomato King” of California was sentenced to six years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to price-fixing and racketeering charges in Sacramento. Frederick Scott Salyer, 57, of pebble Beach, was also ordered to forfeit $3.45 million by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton.

He has yet to have an amount of restitution set by the court. A hearing on that claim will be March 9.

Federal prosecutors accused Salyer, the former CEO and owner of SK Foods, of encouraging food broker Randall Rahal to pay bribes and kickbacks to purchasing officers working for SK Foods’ customers, including Kraft Foods, Frito-Lay and B&G Foods.

SK Foods is a grower, processor and international seller of tomato paste and other agricultural products with plants in Monterey, Lemoore, Williams and Ripon, according to the U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

In his plea, Salyer admitted he operated the firm as a racketeering organization fro 2004 to 2008.

Salyer ordered former employees to falsify lab test results for its tomato paste, including mold count, production dates and whether it qualified as “organic,” Wagner said.

“Scott Salyer used bribery and fraud to deceive his customers about SK Foods’ products in order to maximize his profits,” Wagner said in a prepared statement.

Nine other defendants accused of participating in the scheme pled guilty in 2008 and 2009. Most with be sentenced later this month or in March, according to the U.S. Attorney.

Salyer was ordered to surrender for prison April 9, 2013.

Case: U.S. v. Salyer, No. CR10-61LKK


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