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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-114

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

OWNER OF FOOD DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES SENTENCED TO PRISON IN SCHEME THAT DEFRAUDED RESTAURANT OWNERS


Los Angeles, CA - A Los Angeles man who owned several food distribution companies was sentenced today to 60 months home detention for orchestrating a scheme in which he paid kickbacks to restaurant purchasing agents and caused the restaurant owners to pay inflated prices for his food.

Michael Silver, 62, was sentenced by United States District Judge Robert M. Takasugi, who ordered home detention due to Silver's medical condition.

Silver pleaded guilty in September 2004 to three counts of mail fraud related to the kickback scheme. Silver owned and operated the downtown Los Angeles-based M&M Foods, American Distributors, California Food Distributing, General Provisions, Quality Foods, United Seafoods, and Universal Foods. Through these companies, Silver sold beef, poultry and seafood to restaurants, country clubs, hospitals and assisted living facilities throughout California, Nevada and Hawaii.

According to court documents filed in this case, the scheme ran from January 1997 through February 2002. Silver paid cash kickbacks to purchasing agents and chefs at the food facilities based on the quantity of food they ordered. Most of the time, Silver mailed the cash kickbacks directly to the purchasing agents at their homes.

As part of the scheme, Silver generated money for the kickbacks by increasing the final invoice prices of the food product. To obtain even larger cash kickbacks, some purchasing agents accepted less food than actually ordered.

A majority of the owners of the food facilities had no knowledge that their employees were receiving illegal cash kickbacks, nor did they have any knowledge that they were purchasing food product at increased prices or paying for food product not received.

Silver also pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion, admitting that he illegally deducted the cash kickbacks as a business expense on his 1998 and 1999 federal income tax returns. As a result of illegally declaring more than $10 million in kickbacks as an expense, Silver failed to pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $5.5 million in taxes.

This case is the result of an investigation by IRS-Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Release No. 06-114

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