Hilmar father and son accused of scamming Foster Farms

Two Hilmar men were arraigned in Fresno on Friday in a scheme that cheated Foster Farms of more than $46,000 for construction work that was never performed, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Thursday, charging Surjit Toor, 59, and his son, Raju Toor, 34, with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud for a scheme that billed Foster Farms for work that never occurred. The defendants pleaded not guilty and were released on their own recognizance.

Surjit Toor was a maintenance manager at the Foster Farms processing plant in Livingston, and Raju Toor operated a construction company called Mid State Mechanical, according to court documents.

Surjit Toor was responsible for hiring third-party contractors to work at the plant when needed. According to the indictment, Raju Toor would submit fraudulent invoices to Foster Farms, and Surjit Toor would approve them to get Foster Farms to pay for work that was never performed.

According to a news release, on Feb. 22, 2012, Surjit Toor got Foster Farms to send a purchase order to Mid State requesting that his son’s firm construct a 110-foot inspection catwalk at the Foster Farms processing plant. His son then sent Foster Farms an invoice for more than $20,000, which Surjit Toor approved. However, an in-house maintenance team had built catwalk a month earlier.

The defendants also are suspected of receiving payment for a fraudulent ammonia facilities project.

In March 2012, federal authorities said, Foster Farms mailed a check to Raju Toor that included payment for the catwalk and ammonia projects. The government alleges that Raju Toor transferred the majority of the funds back to his father.

If convicted, Surjit Toor and Raju Toor face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.