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NEW YORK -- Robert Henuset, a sales manager at Yardley, Pa.-based Crowley Foods, LLC, yesterday pleaded guilty in federal court here to one count of conspiracy related to an alleged accounting scandal at Ahold-owned U.S. Foodservice, according to published reports. U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff presided over the hearing.
Henuset, a supplier to Columbia, Md.-based U.S. Foodservice, admitted that he signed an audit confirmation letter in January 2003 overstating the amount of money Crowley Foods owed the company.
He could receive up to five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for March 20.
As part of a plea agreement with the government, he's more likely to serve six months to a year in prison, according to prosecutors, but those guidelines are nonbinding and the judge will make the final decision on his sentence.
Federal prosecutors have charged 16 U.S. Foodservice vendors with involvement in overstating the wholesale food distributor's earnings by more than $800 million between 2000 and 2003, receiving large monetary bonuses in return. The suppliers have been accused of filing false audit confirmation letters for the company. So far, 15 of them, including Henuset, have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case.
In July 2004 prosecutors charged former U.S. Foodservice c.f.o. Michael Resnick and former marketing head Mark Kaiser with securities fraud, conspiracy, and making a false filing with the SEC. They have denied wrongdoing.
Also yesterday, Ahold said that it agreed to pay $1.1 billion to shareholders to settle a separate civil lawsuit in the United States related to its accounting practices.