Two key figures in the federal government’s bribery and racketeering probe of the tomato processing industry were sentenced today in Sacramento, with the defendants receiving starkly different treatment from U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton.
Alan Scott Huey, the 57-year-old former vice president of Monterey-based SK Foods, received three years probation, which will include six months home confinement and 60 days of jail time to be served on weekends.
Karlton imposed the sentence after saying he was deeply torn between the need to order Huey to prison for his crimes and the fact that Huey – a cooperating witness in the case since the FBI raided SK Foods – is the sole caregiver for his wife, Norma, who suffered a massive stroke two years ago.
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A second defendant whose cooperation gave prosecutors stronger cases against Salyer and others did not fare as well before Karlton.
Randall Lee Rahal, a 65-year-old New Jersey food sales broker who now lives in Massachusetts, was seeking a sentence of nine months in prison and nine months home confinement.
The government asked for 26 months in prison and cited his cooperation as “honest, complete and credible,” and noted that, as the first defendant to plead guilty, he paved the path for others to follow suit.
He entered a guilty plea in December 2008 to conspiracies involving racketeering, price fixing, bid rigging and contract allocation, as well as money laundering.
Rahal used money from Salyer’s company to bribe purchasing managers to buy from SK Foods rather than competitors, and he urged Karlton this morning to send him to prison.
“I’m a liar and I’m a cheat and I’m a corrupter,” Rahal told the judge, adding: “I should go to prison, there’s nothing else to say. I knew what I was doing.”
Karlton obliged Rahal, sentencing him to 36 months in an extremely unusual decision to go beyond what the government was seeking.
“My view is that your client is about as guilty as Mr. Salyer,” the judge told Rahal’s attorneys.