Donald C. Smaltz, Independent Counsel In Re Espy, today made the following statement:
A federal Grand Jury sitting in the District of Columbia has returned
a nine count criminal Indictment against Sun Diamond Growers of California. At the
time material to the charges in the Indictment, Sun Diamond Growers of California was a
California agricultural cooperative corporation with business pending before the United
States Department of Agriculture.
Counts One and Two of the Indictment charge the defendant with
illegal gratuities to then Secretary of Agriculture Alphonso Michael Espy, in violation of
Title 18, United States Code, Section 201(c)(1)(A) and Title 18, United States Code,
Section 2. The gratuities included meals, entertainment, transportation expenses and other
personal things of value totaling in excess of $9,000.00. In Counts Three and Four the
defendant is charged with wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code,
Sections 1343 and 1346 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.
Count Five further charges the defendant with an illegal corporate
campaign contribution to the Henry Espy for Congress Committee, then Secretary of
Agriculture Espy's brother, in violation of Title 2, United States Code, Sections 441b(a)
and 437g(d)(1)(A) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. Counts Six through Nine of
the Indictment charge Sun Diamond with illegal conduit campaign contributions to Henry
Espy through James H. Lake, which activity was subject of the criminal prosecution in U.S.
v. Lake (Criminal No. 95-0267) in violation of Title 2, United States Code, Sections 441f
and 437g(d)(1)(A) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. A
conviction on the illegal gratuity and wire fraud charges (Counts One through Four) is
punishable, on each count, by a maximum penalty of $500,000.00. A conviction for the
illegal campaign contributions (Counts Five through Nine) is punishable by a maximum
penalty of $200,000.00 per count.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and
the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Independent Counsel's investigation is ongoing.
NOTE: Copies of the Indictment are available from the Office of Independent Counsel.