(CN) - A vice president of Economy Cash & Carry, a Texas-based grocery wholesaler, pleaded guilty to violating the Plant Protection Act. Michael Sayklay pleaded guilty to one felony charge of falsifying stamps certifying that wood pallets were heat-treated to prevent infestation, and were suitable for use in international transportation.
Sayklay had the false stamp affixed to company wood pallets that were used to carry products back and forth across the US-Mexico border, federal prosecutors said. The offense took place in March 2006.
The Department of Agriculture requires heat treatment for wood pallets imported into the United States. This is to prevent plant pests. It began enforcing the rule in September 2005.
Economy Cash & Carry uses wood pallets to transport food products and pharmaceuticals it sells in the United States and Mexico. Sayklay was warehouse manager for the El Paso-based company, and was expected to direct the transfer of products destined for Mexico from untreated pallets to treated pallets.
Instead, Sayklay created a copy of a stamp certification utilized by a legitimate wood pallet treating company. Sayklay had hundreds of untreated domestic pallets falsely stamped as if they were treated, saving the time to transfer products between pallets as well as the cost of treatment.
"The falsified stamp Sayklay used was smaller than the legitimate stamp. When companies that received the fraudulently stamped pallets from Mexico, sent them to the legitimate stamp owner for repair, the legitimate stamp owner noticed the falsification and notified the government," the Department of Justice said in a statement.
"A follow up investigation by the Department of Agriculture resulted in the seizure of fraudulently stamped pallets at the U.S-Mexican border."
Sayklay will pay a fine of $8,000 dollars and serve a term of probation. He was prosecuted in El Paso Federal Court.
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