Former ConAgra executive says fraud charges 'not accurate'

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Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:00 am

A former ConAgra Foods executive was charged Thursday with eight counts of wire fraud, with authorities alleging he spent money on himself and his softball team that was intended for company marketing purposes.

Donald J. Wilson, 43, of Bothell, Wash., was a division vice president of sales and marketing for ConAgra's Western region when authorities say between 2008 and 2011 he submitted false vendor invoices to ConAgra totaling more than $605,000.

The invoices, which ConAgra officials approved, were for items including ConAgra branded bags, hats, shirts and other promotional items, as well as promotional activities including fishing and spring training trips. In fact, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the vendors were businesses owned by an associate of Wilson's through a professional softball team. The associate shared the money with Wilson in cash and they also used it to pay for trips, hotel rooms, rental cars and other expenses related to their softball team, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

In a statement, ConAgra said, “We became aware of a potential issue through our internal oversight and audit and alerted authorities. We have continued to work with authorities on the case.”

Wilson said he voluntarily left ConAgra in 2012 after a 14-year career with the Omaha packaged food maker. He is now a sales executive at a Seattle coffee roaster. He said Thursday the indictment surprised him, and he called the charges “not accurate.”

Each of the eight counts is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, and a $100 special assessment.

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