Judge Orders Tyson Foods To Pay $6 Million In Fines
By Terry Frieden/CNN
WASHINGTON (Jan. 12) -- Tyson Foods has been ordered to pay the U.S. government $6 million following the firm's recent guilty plea to charges it provided former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy with illegal gifts.
In Washington, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina Monday sentenced
Tyson to pay $4 million in criminal fines and another $2 million to help pay
the costs of the independent counsel investigation into Espy's activities.
Under the plea agreement Urbina approved, Tyson will be allowed to
continue doing business with the U.S. government. Urbina said the fines and penalties are "far in excess" of those he could have imposed if the case had gone to trial.
Arkansas-based Tyson Foods pleaded guilty in December to one felony count of
giving then-Secretary Espy four illegal gratuities valued at about $12,000. The gifts in 1993 and 1994 included air travel and skybox tickets for
an NFL playoff game, and tickets to President Bill Clinton's first Inaugural Dinner.
The poultry processing giant is regulated by the Agriculture Department.
Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz said, "Tyson Foods' guilty plea to giving
illegal gratuities to Secretary Espy should confirm to corporate America a
constant refrain of this investigation -- the regulated may not under the law
give things of value to government officials who regulate them." Smaltz
announced criminal fines and civil penalties resulting from his investigation
of Espy's activities has now topped $10 million.
Espy was charged in August with a 39-count indictment. His trial is set to
begin March 30. The trial for Tyson Foods' lobbyist Jack Williams is
scheduled to begin February 2.