Q: What happened to the tomato king, Salyer?
A: Frederick Scott Salyer, the scion of one of California’s most prominent agriculture families, pleaded guilty in a federal bribery and conspiracy case in which he was accused of trying to corner the nation’s market for tomato products.
He was sentenced in February 2013 in federal court in Sacramento to six years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for racketeering and price fixing. An online roster of federal prison inmates indicates that Salyer, 59, is at the U.S. Penitentiary Atwater in Merced County and is scheduled for release Nov. 30, 2016.
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Salyer had headed SK Foods LP, a Monterey-based firm that was one of the nation’s largest suppliers of tomato-based products.
According to stories in The Sacramento Bee, he was accused of bribing buyers to purchase his products over those of competitors, of mislabeling products that were old or moldy, and of squirreling away millions of dollars overseas as part of a plan to flee rather than face prosecution.
Prior to his guilty plea, Salyer spent eight months in custody, most of it in the Sacramento County Jail, before his lawyers succeeded in having him released on $6 million bail and placed under house arrest and electronic monitoring at his Pebble Beach mansion.
At the time of Salyer’s sentencing, 10 other food industry executives had pleaded guilty to federal charges in the case.