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Tomato exec Frederick Scott Salyer will make second bid for bail in corruption case

March 15, 2010 |  1:19 pm

Frederick Scott Salyer, the former CEO of SK Foods who is facing a lengthy list of corruption charges, will be back in Sacramento federal court on Thursday to make another bid to be released on bail.

Salyer, 54, was arrested on Feb. 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he cleared customs after getting off a flight from Europe. The indicted tomato executive has since pleaded not guilty to racketeering and six other counts of corruption for allegedly directing a decade-long scheme to quash competition of his tomato processing firm and sell SK Foods’ tomato products at inflated prices.

Federal Magistrate Edmund Brennan in Sacramento denied Salyer’s motion for pretrial release earlier this month, noting in his court order that the “defendant is a licensed pilot with extraordinary liquid assets outside the United States that could be used if he chooses to flee.”

But as the case now moves to the court of Judge Lawrence Karlton, who is slated to hear the case at the U.S. District Court in downtown Sacramento, the defense is making another bid for Salyer to be released.

Malcolm Segal, Salyer’s defense attorney, petitioned for Karlton to review the magistrate’s decision. One of the key issues, according to the court filing, is whether Salyer is a flight risk. Segal says that he’s not – and that reports filed by the FBI saying that Salyer was trying to flee the country and avoid extradition were based on faulty information given by Salyer’s former assistant.

The defense has alleged that the assistant held a grudge against the tomato executive in part because he did not return her romantic affections, and had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of artwork and other property from Salyer’s home in Pebble Beach, according to court documents.

But federal prosecutors have argued that they have more than enough evidence to show that Salyer would be a flight risk.

Court documents filed by federal prosecutors include e-mails from Salyer dated September 2009 inquiring about establishing residency in Andorra, a small European principality in the Pyrenees Mountains that does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., and asking that the process “get started”; e-mails dated January 2010 to a Swiss banker to transfer $3.25 million to a different account because he’d “found a property to invest in”; and an e-mail dated a week before his arrest that showed he planned to close on the Andorra property soon.

-- P.J. Huffstutter