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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 15, 1998

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

   Donald C. Smaltz, Independent Counsel In re Espy, announced that a District of Columbia Grand Jury returned a 15-count Superseding Indictment today charging violations of multiple federal criminal laws against a Tyson Foods, Inc. ("Tyson Foods") Vice President, Archibald R. Schaffer, III ("Schaffer"), and its principal lobbyist, Jack L. Williams ("Williams"). The Indictment charges Schaffer and Williams with giving illegal gratuities to former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy and another senior Department of Agriculture official, and making false statements to conceal their knowledge of the illegal gratuities. The Indictment alleges that Schaffer, Tyson Foods' Vice President in charge of Media, Public and Governmental Affairs and person in-charge of the company's lobbying activities, conspired with Williams, Tyson Foods' principal Washington lobbyist, and others to defraud the United States and the USDA of the right to the honest services of Secretary Espy, to violate the illegal gratuities provisions of Title 18 (18 U.S.C. 201(c)(1)(A)) and the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1907 (21 U.S.C. 622), and to make false statements to federal law enforcement officers (18 U.S.C. 1001). The Indictment supersedes two previous indictments of Williams, one charging that Williams made false statements to FBI and USDA Office of Inspector General agents, and one charging Williams with giving illegal gratuities to Secretary Espy and making the false statements.

   The illegal gratuities charged in this Indictment include the gratuities that Tyson Foods admitted to giving Secretary Espy when it pleaded guilty on December 29, 1997. Tyson Foods pleaded guilty to giving four illegal gratuities to Espy valued at approximately $12,000: (1) four tickets to the January 18, 1993 Presidential Inaugural Dinner for a total cost of $6,000; (2) air transportation (round trip for Secretary Espy's girlfriend and one-way for Secretary Espy) on a Tyson Foods jet, meals, lodging, and entertainment at the Don Tyson/John Tyson weekend gala and birthday party at the Tyson Management Development Center, Russellville, Arkansas, in May 1993 in the approximate amount of $2,556; (3) a January 1994 Tyson Foundation scholarship check for Secretary Espy's girlfriend in the amount of $1,200 for the first semester of an eight-semester program; and (4) airline tickets for Secretary Espy's girlfriend, skybox tickets, food, and limousines for the Dallas Cowboys--Green Bay Packers January 16, 1994 NFL playoff game in the approximate amount of $2,271.

   Earlier this week the Honorable Ricardo M. Urbina sentenced Tyson Foods to (1) pay $6 million to the United States Treasury -- $4 million in criminal fines and $2 million toward the Office of Independent Counsel's cost of investigation; (2) adhere to a comprehensive Corporate Compliance Agreement; (3) cooperate fully with the Office of Independent Counsel's ongoing investigation and prosecutions of Secretary Espy and this case; and (4) four years probation.

   In addition to the conspiracy count, the Indictment charges Schaffer with one count of mail fraud in connection with a letter inviting Secretary Espy to the Russellville party; two counts of wire fraud for fax communications to the USDA in connection with the Russellville party; one count of giving an illegal gratuity to Secretary Espy in violation of the Meat Inspection Act for the Russellville party; and two counts of giving gratuities to a public official for the Presidential Inaugural dinner tickets and the Russellville party.

   In addition to the conspiracy count, the Indictment charges Williams with two counts of wire fraud for a fax communication concerning the Tyson Foods scholarship for Espy's girlfriend and telephone communications regarding the January 1994 NFL playoff game travel arrangements; one count each of giving an illegal gratuity to Secretary Espy in violation of the Meat Inspection Act and giving a gratuity to a public official in connection with the January 1994 NFL playoff game; one count each of giving an illegal gratuity to the Acting Assistant Secretary in violation of the Meat Inspection Act and giving a gratuity to a public official in connection with a skybox seat at a February 1994 University of Arkansas men's college basketball game and an airline ticket upgrade; and two counts of false statements.

    A count-by-count breakdown of the Indictment is as follows:

   Count One charges both defendants with conspiring together and with four unindicted co-conspirators, Tyson Foods, Don Tyson, John Tyson and the Tyson Foundation, to defraud the United States, its citizens and the USDA of their right to the honest services of Secretary Espy performed free from deceit, fraud, dishonesty, conflict of interest and unlawful compensation and with committing offenses against the United States by giving things of value to and for the benefit of Secretary Espy in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. The objectives of the conspiracy included obtaining, having, and maintaining access to high-level officials at the USDA, not jeopardizing the continued receipt of the substantial economic benefits of federal meat and poultry inspection rights granted by the USDA to Tyson Foods, and concealing and covering-up the extent of the illegal gratuities.

   Count Two charges Schaffer with mail fraud by causing to be delivered by United States mail a letter dated April 26, 1993, from the Arkansas Poultry Federation ("APF") in Springdale, Arkansas to the USDA in Washington, D.C., inviting Secretary Espy to a meeting on May 15, 1993 which coincided with the weekend gala and birthday party hosted by Don Tyson for his companion and John Tyson, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1346.

   Counts Three and Four charge Schaffer and Counts Five and Six charge Williams with wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 1346. Count Three charges Schaffer with transmitting by fax to the USDA the April 26, 1993 invitation to the APF meeting. Count Four charges Schaffer with transmitting by fax to Secretary Espy's official USDA travel coordinator a memorandum outlining the travel and lodging accommodations made for Secretary Espy's and his girlfriend's attendance at the May 14 - 16, 1993 weekend birthday celebration. Count Five charges Williams with causing the Tyson Foundation to fax a blank scholarship application from Tyson Foods in Springdale, Arkansas to Williams in Washington, D.C. for Secretary Espy's girlfriend. Count Six charges Williams with telephone communications on January 10, 1994, between himself, in Washington, D.C., and Don Tyson's secretary in Springdale, Arkansas concerning the travel arrangements for Secretary Espy and his girlfriend to attend the January 16, 1994 NFL playoff game.

   Count Seven charges Schaffer and Counts Eight and Nine charge Williams with violations of the Meat Inspection Act, Title 21, United States Code, Section 622. Specifically, Count Seven charges Schaffer with providing Secretary Espy with airfare, meals, live entertainment, lodging, recreational activities and other amenities valued at $2,556 in connection with the Russellville birthday party. Count Eight charges Williams with providing Secretary Espy with airfare, limousines, parking, pregame brunch, food and drink and skybox tickets to the Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers NFL playoff game on January 16, 1994, valued at $2,271. Count Nine charges Williams with providing the Acting Assistant Secretary with two illegal gratuities with a total value of $191 -- a skybox seat at a February 1, 1994 University of Arkansas men's college basketball game against Vanderbilt University, and a first-class upgrade for the Acting Assistant Secretary's return airplane ticket on American Airlines to Washington, D.C. on February 2, 1994. The Indictment alleges that Schaffer and Williams gave these illegal gratuities with the intent to influence Secretary Espy and the Acting Assistant Secretary in the performance of their duties under the Meat Inspection Act.

   Counts Ten and Eleven charge Schaffer and Counts Twelve and Thirteen charge Williams with giving gratuities to a Public Official in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 201(c)(1)(A). Count Ten charges Schaffer with providing Secretary Espy with four seats at the January 18,1993 Presidential Inaugural Dinner at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. valued at $1,500 per ticket and totaling $6,000. Count Eleven charges Schaffer with providing Secretary Espy with things of value totaling $2,556 in connection with the May 15 - 16, 1993 Russellville birthday party for Don Tyson's companion and John Tyson. Count Twelve charges Williams with providing Secretary Espy with things of value totaling $2,271 from January 15 - 16, 1994 in connection with Espy's and Espy's girlfriend's travel, lodging and attendance at the NFL playoff game in Dallas, Texas. Count Thirteen charges Williams with providing the Acting Assistant Secretary with things of value totaling $191 from February 1 - 2, 1994 -- the skybox seat at the University of Arkansas basketball game and the first-class airline ticket upgrade. The Indictment alleges that Schaffer and Williams gave these illegal gratuities for and because of official acts performed and to be performed by Secretary Espy and the Acting Assistant Secretary.

   Counts Fourteen and Fifteen charge Williams with making false statements to federal law enforcement officials. Count Fourteen charges Williams with lying to agents of the USDA Office of Inspector General concerning his knowledge of Secretary Espy's attendance at the January 16, 1994 Dallas Cowboys playoff game. The Indictment alleges that Williams claimed he heard about Espy's attendance through rumor and news reports, when in fact Williams personally paid for Espy's girlfriend's airplane ticket and discussed arrangements for Espy and his girlfriend with Don Tyson's secretary. Count Fifteen charges Williams with lying to FBI agents on June 9, 1994 when he claimed not to remember talking to Espy's girlfriend on the telephone at any time and certainly not to make travel or other arrangements for her or Secretary Espy involving Tyson Foods or any other client, not to have her telephone number, not to know where she was employed, and to have no prior knowledge of Espy's social and travel plans, including his attendance at the Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers football game on January 16, 1994. The Indictment alleges that Williams' statements to the FBI agents were false because he faxed a blank Tyson Foundation scholarship application to Espy's girlfriend at her place of employment, he had a telephone conversation with Don Tyson's personal secretary concerning arrangements for Espy and his girlfriend to attend the Dallas Cowboys playoff game, he called Espy's girlfriend at her place of employment, he caused a travel agency to charge Espy's girlfriend's airfare of approximately $1,009 on American Airlines to his personal VISA account and to issue round trip airline tickets in her name, he caused his driver to deliver the Dallas airline tickets to Espy's girlfriend at her place of employment, and he knew that Espy's girlfriend used the airline tickets that he bought for her to attend the Dallas Cowboys playoff game with Secretary Espy as guests of Don Tyson and Tyson Foods.

   The conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and false statements counts (1-6 and 14-15) each carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum fine of $250,000. The gratuities to a public official counts (10-13) each carry a maximum term of imprisonment of two years and a maximum fine of $250,000. The Meat Inspection Act counts (7-9) each carry a mandatory prison term of one-to-three years and a fine between $5,000 and $10,000.

    A different grand jury first indicted Williams on September 17, 1996 for the false statements. On March 21, 1997, a jury convicted Williams in the District of Columbia on the two false statements counts in this Indictment. Subsequently, on June 11, 1997, the trial judge, the Honorable James Robertson, granted Williams' motion for a new trial.

   On September 30, 1997, the same grand jury that returned the Indictment today returned a four-count Superseding Indictment charging two counts of giving illegal gratuities under the Meat Inspection Act and the two false statements counts for which Williams was previously convicted.

   The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are only accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

    The Independent Counsel's investigation is ongoing.

    Copies of the second Superseding Indictment are available from the Office of Independent Counsel.

CONTACT: Charles G. Bakaly, III (703) 706-0010 ext. 166

 

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