Shoe agent gets 1 month in prison for kickbacks


A former purchasing agent for the Bata Shoe Co. was sentenced yesterday in federal court to a month in prison, two months in a community facility and two months in home confinement for soliciting kickbacks on government contracts for military boots.

Alvin Grieninger, 58, of Havre de Grace pleaded guilty Jan. 10 to taking kickbacks totaling $37,652.54 between 1985 and 1989 to influence his choice of subcontractors for materials while he was purchasing agent for the Belcamp, Md., contractor.

As part of the sentence, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis fined Mr. Grieninger $10,000 and ordered him to pay the $3,685.24 remaining of an $11,000 restitution payment to Bata, where he worked from 1955 until 1990. The $11,000 represents payoffs relating to government contracts held by his employer, especially its manufacture of a cold-weather combat boot.

Mr. Grieninger was charged with Kurt Faulhammer, the 49-year-old owner of a Massachusetts textile mill, who pleaded guilty with him to paying $8,536 in kickbacks to get a contract to supply material for the boots, and received a one-day sentence and 59 days of home detention from Judge Garbis.

Also charged was the Bell Container Corp. of Newark, N.J., which pleaded guilty to paying $133,866.22 to Mr. Grieninger and to his predecessor, the late Zdenek Formanek of Aberdeen, for a contract to supply boxes for the boots.

Mr. Formanek, who was chronically ill, died two months ago -- about the time his case was set for trial, said Assistant U.S. Attorney W. Warren Hamel.

Yesterday, Judge Garbis told Mr. Greininger, "[you are] a good person who worked hard all your life before you got involved in an industry in which these things are a way of life. You didn't create it, and you alone couldn't stop it, [but] the fact is the law takes it rather seriously.

"There's no excuse for it," the judge continued, but "there's also no reason to make you an example by ruining your life.

"I think the sentence has to be as light as I can make it," but under the sentencing guidelines, the judge said, "I simply must impose a sentence that includes a period of incarceration and work-release."

Mr. Formanek's death and yesterday's sentencing complete the case, said Richard D. Bennett, U.S. attorney for Maryland.

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