Ex-Humboldt Creamery CEO pleads guilty to fraud

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Humboldt Creamery's former CEO has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making false statements with financial problems that bankrupted the former farmer cooperative.

Rich Ghilarducci entered his plea Wednesday in San Francisco federal court in a deal with prosecutors.

In the plea agreement, Ghilarducci admitted to falsifying the creamery's financial statements from 2005 to 2008 implying it had millions more cash on hand than it did.

He resigned abruptly in February 2009, leaving dairy operators unpaid for their milk and local businesses in a financial lurch. The creamery has since been sold to Foster Farms Dairy at auction.

Prosecutors suggest a prison term of four or five years when Ghilarducci is sentenced Oct. 6. The judge also could order him to pay restitution of $7 million to investors.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.



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