Judge Edward M. Chen handed down the sentence June 16, three months after he upheld a federal jury’s December guilty verdict. The case’s outcome is being viewed as a warning to top chicken and beef executives facing Justice Department probes that have started yielding arrests.
The sentencing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California came two weeks after Washington state added to Lischewski’s legal woes by suing him and a former rival, Starkist Co., over the market rigging racket.
At Lischewksi’s sentencing hearing last month, which was streamed over Zoom, Chen rejected a call for leniency by his attorneys, who had suggested 12 months of home confinement. Nor did he hand out the eight- to 10-year prison term and $1 million fine sought by the government.
Instead,the judge opted for a sentence roughly halfway between those points, as well as a $100,000 fine. He called the 59-year-old Lischewski “neither all good nor all bad,” citing his philanthropic efforts and lack of a prior criminal record, and noting the coronavirus risks presented by incarceration.
But Chen also stressed the impact of the criminal conspiracy, which inflated the price of a “simple staple purchased by thousands,” including low-income households and the elderly.
Lischewski, who’s scheduled to surrender himself Aug. 17, will now ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reverse the rulings against him and lift the sentence, according to court papers he filed late Tuesday.
He was represented at trial by Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, and the appeal notice was signed by John D. Cline of San Francisco. The government is represented by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of California.
The case is United States v. Lischewski, N.D. Cal., No. 18-cr-203, notice of appeal filed 6/30/20.