Safeway Manager Charged With Wire Fraud In Tomato Case

A former purchasing manager for Safeway Inc. was charged with two counts of wire fraud Wednesday in Sacramento in the ongoing federal investigation of illegal actions in the processing tomato industry.

Michael Chavez, 52, of Fremont, pleaded guilty to the charges and is expected to appear in federal court in Sacramento in the coming weeks, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

Chavez worked as a manager in sourcing for Safeway between 2000 and 2007, and he has admitted that during that time he accepted bribes from Randall Lee Rahal, a sales broker and director of SK Foods LP, a tomato processing company, to steer contracts to SK Foods.

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