Former Safeway manager charged with wire fraud

A former purchasing manager for Safeway was charged with two counts of wire fraud on Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif., in the ongoing federal investigation of illegal actions in the tomato processing industry, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.

Michael Chavez pleaded guilty to the charges and is expected to appear in federal court in Sacramento in the coming weeks.

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.

The federal investigation surrounding practices in the tomato processing industry over the past two years has found buyers who took bribes, executives who shipped poor quality product as good product, executives who embezzled funds, numerous examples of people who conspired to rig bids and instances of racketeering, the report said.