The president of Wye River Inc., the Eastern Shore-based marketer of seafood seasonings and other products, was charged yesterday with defrauding the Food Lion grocery chain of more than $300,000.
Beginning in 1988 and continuing until August 1993, Joseph L. Bernard III overcharged the grocery chain by listing inflated prices on invoices, according to federal prosecutors.
The company produces and markets seasonings for crabs, plus other products such as crab soup, tartar sauce and seafood cocktail sauce.
Mr. Bernard was charged in a one-count "information" instead of a grand jury indictment. Mr. Bernard was charged with mail fraud, since the invoices were sent through the U.S. postal system.
Court documents described a scheme in which Mr. Bernard had company employees bill the stores for a case when an individual item had been ordered.
The total amount overpaid by Food Lion was $328,555.48, according to court files.
Efforts to reach Mr. Bernard and his attorneys yesterday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joyce K. McDonald declined to discuss the case, which was investigated by the FBI.
Mr. Bernard started the company in a garage in the mid-1980s and in the next decade turned it into a $5.5 million operation. It is based in Queenstown.
Officials of the privately held company would not say how many workers the company employs, nor would they release annual sales figures.