Two Illinois produce dealers were sentenced in federal court in Boise, ID, today for packaging more than three million pounds of non-Idaho potatoes in bags labeled "Grown In Idaho."
Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, sentenced William Kaufmann, Jr., 47, to nine months of home detention and five years probation. Ted Katz, 47, was sentenced to six months home detention and five years probation.
Each defendant was also ordered to pay a fine of $20,000 and $100,000 in restitution to the Idaho Potato Commission.
Interim U.S. Attorney Marc Haws commended the FBI and the Idaho Potato Commission for their work on the case. "This joint effort demonstrates that we take very seriously and will aggressively pursue instances of fraud that victimize Idaho farmers."
Idaho Potato Commission Chairman Dennis Herbold said the sentence should serve as a deterrent. "I'm very pleased," he said. "The Court has sent a strong message to other out-of-state producers who might contemplate trying to take advantage of Idaho growers."
Katz and Kaufmann admitted that during a two-month period in late 1996-97, they directed their employees to pack some 3.4 million pounds of non-Idaho potatoes in sacks bearing the "Grown in Idaho" seal. They falsely represented them to customers as Idaho potatoes, in violation of their license agreement.