A father and son out of Hilmar were arraigned Friday on federal charges of bilking Foster Farms out of thousands of dollars for non-existent construction work.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Thursday charging Surjit Toor, 59, and his son Raju Toor, 34, with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of mail fraud for a scheme that billed Foster Farms for work that was never performed. The defendants pleaded not guilty Friday and were released on their own recognizance.
Surjit Toor was a maintenance manager at the Foster Farms processing plant in Livingston, and Raju Toor operated a construction company called Mid State Mechanical (Mid State). According to court records, Surjit Toor was responsible for hiring third party contractors to work at the plant when needed. The indictment alleges that Raju Toor would submit fraudulent invoices to Foster Farms, and Surjit Toor would approve them in order to cause Foster Farms to pay for work that was never performed.
On Feb. 22, 2012, Surjit Toor caused Foster Farms to send a purchase order to Mid State requesting that Mid State construct a 110foot inspection catwalk at the Foster Farms processing plant. Raju Toor then sent Foster Farms an invoice for more than $20,000, which Surjit Toor approved. However, an in-house maintenance team had already constructed the catwalk a month earlier, the investigation revealed.
The indictment alleges Mid State was issued a check for more than $20,000 for the catwalk project.
The defendants also allegedly received payment for a fraudulent ammonia vessel project involving the modification of a large metal tank designed to hold ammonia, which is part of the plant’s refrigeration system. Surjit Toor caused Foster Farms to send a purchase order to Mid State for this project, and although Raju Toor did not perform any work, he sent an invoice, and Surjit Toor approved payment.
The indictment states Mid State was paid more than $26,000 for work that included the ammonia vessel.
In March 2012, Foster Farms mailed a check to Raju Toor that included payment for the catwalk and ammonia vessel projects. Raju Toor transferred the majority of the funds back to his father, according to court records.
If convicted, Surjit Toor and Raju Toor face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count, however, the actual sentence and fine is up to the discretion of the court.