Former Utz Quality Foods vendor pleads guilty to $1.4 million kickback scheme

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – The owner/operator of a former Utz Quality Foods, Inc. supplier pleaded guilty in federal court in Harrisburg today to charges that he defrauded Utz out of approximately $1.4 million.

Jonathan Haas, 45, of Easton,  the former owner of Haas Packaging and Design, Inc. in Bethlehem,  and Kevin Myers,  38, formerly of Abbottstown, and the former Director of Purchasing for Utz, were charged in June with the one count wire fraud Information. The Information was filed against Myers and Haas pursuant to plea agreements they executed with the government. Myers entered his guilty plea to one count of wire fraud count before Magistrate Judge Susan Schwab on Tuesday.

Between 2007 and 2014 Haas Packaging & Design supplied Utz with shelving and packaging products. During the guilty plea proceeding Haas admitted he and Myers defrauded Utz between 2010 and 2014 by Myers’ preparation of bogus purchase orders and Haas’ submission of false invoices against the phony purchase orders for packaging product Utz never received. After Myers approved Haas’ false invoices for payment, Haas would kick back a portion of Utz’s payment to Myers.

The Information alleges Haas received approximately $1,474,765 from Utz and from that amount Haas paid Myers approximately $651,000. Haas’ plea agreement requires the court to determine the actual loss amount and the amount of restitution to be paid Utz.

Haas also admitted he and Myers attempted to conceal some of the kickbacks Haas paid Myers as payments for fictional consulting services. To facilitate the ruse Myers opened up a bank account under the name of “Myers Packaging Consulting,” a non-existent, paper entity.

The specific wire fraud charge relates to an alleged interstate wire transmission of a $26,000 Haas check into a Myers Packaging Consulting bank account in January 2014.

The government is seeking forfeiture of approximately $1.4 million from the defendants as illegal proceeds of the scheme.

The case was investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Utz Quality Foods, Inc. cooperated with the investigation.

Haas faces a  maximum penalty under federal law is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine.

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