Father And Son Charged With Defrauding Foster Farms
FRESNO, Calif. — Surjit Toor, 59, and his son Raju Toor, 34, both of Hilmar, were arraigned in Fresno today for a scheme that defrauded Foster Farms of more than $46,000, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Thursday, charging the defendants with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of mail fraud for a scheme that billed Foster Farms for work that was never performed. The defendants pleaded not guilty and were released on their own recognizance.
According to court documents, Surjit Toor was a maintenance manager at the Foster Farms processing plant in Livingston, and Raju Toor operated a construction company called Mid State Mechanical (Mid State). Surjit Toor was responsible for hiring third party contractors to work at the plant when needed. The indictment alleges that Raju Toor would submit fraudulent invoices to Foster Farms, and Surjit Toor would approve them in order to cause Foster Farms to pay for work that was never performed.
On February 22, 2012, Surjit Toor caused Foster Farms to send a purchase order to Mid State requesting that Mid State construct a 110-foot inspection catwalk at the Foster Farms processing plant. Raju Toor then sent Foster Farms an invoice for more than $20,000, which Surjit Toor approved. However, an in-house maintenance team had already constructed the catwalk a month earlier. The defendants also received payment for a fraudulent ammonia vessel project involving the modification of a large metal tank designed to hold ammonia, which is part of the plant’s refrigeration system. Surjit Toor caused Foster Farms to send a purchase order to Mid State for this project, and although Raju Toor did not perform any work, he sent an invoice, and Surjit Toor approved payment.
In March 2012, Foster Farms mailed a check to Raju Toor that included payment for the catwalk and ammonia vessel projects. Raju Toor transferred the majority of the funds back to his father.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Grant B. Rabenn and Special Assistant United States Attorney Brian A. Fogerty are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Surjit Toor and Raju Toor face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.