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Mushroom stealing scheme gets ex-con 28 months in federal pen

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The former inventory control manager for D’Artagnan, a gourmet mushroom distributor in Newark, was sentenced today to 28 months in federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars worth of mushrooms from his employer while awaiting sentencing for an unrelated $1.2 million embezzlement scheme.

Gino Silva, 44, of Union, pleaded guilty last April to interstate theft of property while on release pending sentencing in another case.

In December 2007, Silva and a fellow D’Artagnan employee, 45-year-old Steven Perei of Jersey City, began their own gourmet mushroom company, “which they used to secretly compete with their employer’s business.

When they couldn’t deliver on paid orders for their company — which they called Mediterra —  “they stole mushrooms and other products from D’Artagnan” to fill the orders, Fishman said.

Trying to cover their tracks, the U.S. attorney said, Silva got a D’Artagnan’s inventory control employee to inflate the company’s purchase orders and avoid entering certain product deliveries into the inventory.

Silva was awaiting sentencing at the time, having pleaded guilty to se after pleading guilty to paying a temporary staffing agency for the services of fake employees for a company known as Philips Accessories and Computer Peripherals, Inc. (“Philips”). The money was routed to bank accounts he and his conspirators controlled, defrauding Philips of nearly $1.2 million.

He later was sent to federal prison for 27 months and was released last year.

In addition to the prison term imposed today in Newark, U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh ordered Silva to pay $71,179 in restitution.

Cavanaugh last  June sentenced Perei to two years probation after he pleaded guilty to selling and receiving stolen goods. As part of the deal, he was expected to cooperate with the government in its case against Silva.

Fishman credited the FBI and IRS with the investigation, which led to a prosecution handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott B. McBride of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

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