Mississippi man accused of selling food that was to be destroyed to discount stores

Published 11:55 am Thursday, May 3, 2018

SEATTLE (AP) — Food and drinks that were supposed to be destroyed instead wound up on the shelves of discount grocery stores in several states, federal prosecutors said in charging documents Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle charged a Mississippi man, Randy Sparks, in what authorities described as a two-year scheme to obtain about 200 truckloads of food and beverages under the promise that the products would be destroyed or recycled into agricultural feed.

Instead Sparks, the owner of Silver Dollar Sales in Golden, Mississippi, and others conspired to sell it to discount grocery businesses in other states, including Mississippi and California, from 2014 to 2016, prosecutors said.

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They are also accused of falsifying documents to make it appear that the products had been destroyed.

There is no allegation in charging papers that the resold products threatened human health. Food and beverage manufacturers sometimes seek to have product destroyed if its quality or appearance is subpar or if it’s past its due date.

Sparks is due to enter a plea in U.S. District Court in Seattle on May 21 to a single count of conspiracy to transport property taken by fraud. The type of charging document filed in the case, called an information, can only be filed when a defendant has waived the right to be indicted by a grand jury, and it typically indicates that a plea deal is in the works.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Sparks declined to comment on the allegations, but told The Associated Press, “I wish it wouldn’t go on the news.”
Among the companies that believed its products were being destroyed was a Washington state producer of apple juice. The company later learned that the juice instead was being sold at a discount grocery store in Maryland.

In all Sparks bought at least 17 truckloads of apple juice at $1,000 per load — as well as more than 180 truckloads of other products from at least 10 different manufacturers, prosecutors said.