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Former employee of new jersey-Based gourmet mushroom distributor sentenced to prison for stealing mushrooms for rival company

March 12, 2012


Defendant Committed Crime While Awaiting Sentence for $1.2 Million Embezzlement

NEWARK, N.J. – The former inventory control manager for D’Artagnan, a gourmet mushroom distributor in Newark, was sentenced today to 28 months in prison for stealing thousands of dollars worth of mushrooms from his employer while awaiting sentencing for an unrelated $1.2 million embezzlement scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Gino Silva, 44, of Union, N.J., pleaded guilty in April 2011 to an Information charging interstate theft of property while on release pending sentencing in another federal criminal matter. Silva entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, who also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In December 2007, Silva and Steven Perei, 45, of Jersey City, N.J., also a D’Artagnan employee, started a gourmet mushroom company called Mediterra which they used to secretly compete with their employer’s business. When Silva and Perei made sales on behalf of Mediterra without having the inventory necessary to deliver them, they stole mushrooms and other products from D’Artagnan and used them to fulfill the Mediterra orders.

To cover up the ongoing theft and the use of D’Artagnan’s refrigerators to store other Mediterra products, Silva instructed D’Artagnan’s inventory control employee to inflate the company’s purchase orders and avoid entering certain product deliveries into the company’s inventory.

Silva operated the mushroom theft scheme while on pre-sentencing release after pleading guilty to an unrelated conspiracy. From 2000 through 2005, Silva was a vice president in charge of operations at Philips Accessories and Computer Peripherals, Inc. (“Philips”). During that time, Silva and others caused Philips to pay a temporary staffing agency for the services of fake employees, ultimately routing the fraudulent paychecks to bank accounts they controlled. The conspiracy lasted nearly six years and defrauded Philips of approximately $1.2 million.

Silva pleaded guilty in December 2008 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz to an Information charging him with one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and income tax evasion. U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg sentenced Silva in June 2009 to 27 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $843,414 in restitution.

In addition to the prison term imposed today, Judge Cavanaugh sentenced Silva to a year of supervised release and ordered him to pay $71,179 in restitution.

Perei pleaded guilty on April 19, 2010, to one count of selling and receiving stolen goods in relation to the same mushroom-theft scheme. Judge Cavanaugh sentenced Perei to two years of probation in June 2011.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; and IRS, Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge JoAnn S. Zuniga, with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott B. McBride of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.


Defense counsel: Jay V. Surgent Esq., Lyndhurst, N.J.

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