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Jailers Charged in Bribery, Kickback Schemes

Asenior administrator in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and an independent contractor face felony bribery charges involving padded contracts for millions of dollars in jail food. And, in Texas, a McLennan County grand jury indicted a county sheriff's Sgt. on misdemeanor charges stemming from "unethical [food procurement] practices and procedures due primarily to a lack of written policies."

Frederick Gaio, second in command of the L.A. Sheriff's $20 million food operation, and food contractor Rick Hodgin were arraigned in L.A. Superior Court on accusations that they participated in a pattern of corruption spanning at least two years. Prosecutors say that Hodgin paid Gaio bribes totaling more than $20,000 beginning in 1995 while working for a Florida-based company called Joy Food Service, which at the time was the beneficiary of millions of dollars in food contracts from the L.A. County Jail. When Hodgin later became sales director for California-based Harvest Farms, that firm suddenly captured much of the lucrative jail food business.

On a somewhat smaller scale, Sgt. Martha Warren Normen, a 17-year veteran and former supervisor of the McLennan County Jail kitchen, was accused of improperly accepting unspecified "gifts" from a vendor who sells food to the county jail.

L.A. County officials said that despite indications of earlier problems, Gaio's alleged wrongdoing went undetected because of serious lapses in management and oversight of food operations in the nation s largest jail system.

LA Times ,Dallas Morning News

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