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JUNE 22, 2011

BOSTON, Mass...A former Sandwich man, who faked being lost at sea earlier this year,
was sentenced today in federal court for having defrauded his employer, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. (OSC), of more than $1.3 million.

JAMES REPETTO, 55, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro to five years in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1.3 million. On October 5, 2010, REPETTO pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud, one count of filing a false tax return, and one count of witness tampering.

Had the case proceeded to trial the Government’s evidence would have proven that from about 1999 through 2008, while REPETTO was an Operations Manager and Plant Manager for OSC, he engaged in a scheme to defraud the company with his co-defendant Stanley Wheeler, owner of a Boston business called Wheeler Sales Associates d/b/a Wheeler Packaging Associates (WPA).

The scheme began with kickback payments to REPETTO for work contracted to WPA, then quickly evolved into their submitting fictitious invoices for work never performed. REPETTO used his position with OSC to approve and submit for payment all the fictitious invoices. In total, OSC paid out over $1.3 million for work not performed, all of which was split by REPETTO and Wheeler. REPETTO filed a false tax return which failed to report his proceeds from the scheme.

REPETTO attempted to obstruct justice when the scheme was later discovered and after criminal investigators contacted him, by instructing Wheeler in writing to destroy all relevant documents and providing Wheeler with a detailed, and false, cover story. Wheeler chose instead to turn the letter over to authorities. In March 2011, while awaiting sentencing, REPETTO made an unauthorized trip to California where he faked being lost at sea. The ensuing overnight Coast Guard search during a bad storm put lives at risk and cost the government about $250,000.

Wheeler is scheduled to be sentenced on August 30, 2011 for the same mail fraud scheme and filing a false tax return.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Balthazard of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.



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