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Potato Baron Accused of Money Laundering

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - A potato baron is accused of laundering political money. James Larry Minor, one of the country's biggest potato growers, was to be arraigned today (Wednesday) on charges of conspiracy, perjury and filing a false document.

Minor, 70, of San Jacinto, owns Agri-Empire Corp., also of San Jacinto, which supplied potatoes to fast-food restaurants, supermarkets and brokers.

He is accused of conspiring to violate California's Political Reform Act by donating nearly $40,000 in the names of family members to the Jeff Stone for State Senate Campaign in 2009. "The practice is known as money laundering because it is designed to hide the true source of campaign donations and allows an individual to exceed the legal limits for donating to a state political campaign," the California Attorney General's Office said in a statement. "The limit was $3,900 in 2009."

Stone, a former Temecula city councilman, is serving his second term on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

Minor also is accused of perjury and filing a false statement about his donations to the Committee to Elect Branda Salas for State Assembly Campaign in 2006. The limit that year was $3,300 but Minor gave $26,400 in others' names, prosecutors said.

Minor faces up to 4 years and 8 months in prison if convicted. The indictment, issued by a grand jury in December, was to be unsealed at today's court hearing.

San Jacinto sits under the western slopes of Mt. San Jacinto, on the other side of which is Palm Springs.

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