"Operation Rotten Tomato" catches fraud in the food industry

 Frederick Scott Salyer is one bad tomato.

A former owner of a tomato company is in big trouble. He ran a company called SK Foods that processed tomatoes for use in other foods. Since the tomato paste business is fiercely competitive, he found an edge by cheating.

He's charged with bribing food companies to buy his products, mislabeling regular products as organic, and selling products with a one-year shelf life that were three-years old.

When someone in the company complained, Mr. Salyer said:
“You can take the ethics book and shove it…We have always manipulated inventory and will continue to. We will lie to anyone outside the circle, but not to each other.”
The FBI discovered that when SK Foods could not keep up with demand, they mislabeled old as new and regular as organic. As Mr. Salyer said:
"You can solve all your problems with a label printer."
Mr. Salyer left for Europe, but when he returned to the U.S. he was arrested. After eight months in jail, he made bail.

His company went bankrupt and was sold.

Prosecutors are worried that Mr. Salyer will flee the country:
"In late 2009, as his attorney was engaged in discussions with the government, the defendant used nominee bank accounts to move millions of dollars to Andorra and, removing all doubt as to his intentions, put a deposit down on a residence in that country while simultaneously emailing a specialized company for assistance to obtain residency in Andorra.*"
 (*a small country bordered by Spain and France)

The capital of the principality of Andorra,
Andorra la Vella is finely situated on the Gran Valira river.

- Operation Rotten Tomato - Fraud in the Food Industry, FBI>>
- Tomato king Frederick Scott Salyer's journey from boardroom to jail cell, Los Angeles Times>>
- Tomato king Salyer leaves jail after bail is raised, Sacramento Bee>>
- To learn lots about the tomato business, read Rotten Tomatoes - Scandal strikes the tomato-paste industry, Slate>>

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