July 19, 2019
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Man who sued Betty Crocker sent back to federal prison for 27 months

Stock image | Pexels
Stock image | Pexels

A federal judge on Tuesday sent a Waterville man back to prison in part for not reporting the $10,000 he received in a settlement from Betty Crocker after he alleged the company’s red measuring spoons made him sick.

In ruling that Gregory P. Violette violated the conditions of his supervised release, U.S. District Judge George Singal called the violation “the most egregious” in his 20 years on the federal bench and predicted that Violette would one day “get the idea again that there are some sheep out there to be fleeced” and be back before a judge.

Singal ruled that Violette, 63, violated his supervised release last year by selling securities without a license, taking out a $150,000 loan to buy a home, buying a $2,000 wedding band set without permission from his probation officer and lying about his earnings. Singal sent Violette back to prison for 27 months.

Violette admitted Tuesday that he violated the conditions of his release.

It was the third time Violette was sent back to prison for not complying with the conditions of his supervised release.

Violette originally was charged in 2000, the same year Singal was confirmed as a federal judge by the U.S. Senate

“We’ve known each other as long as I’ve been on the bench,” he told Violette on Tuesday. “This is the most egregious violation of supervised release and court orders I’ve seen in my 20 years on the bench. It is a deliberate and callous disregard for the rules of society.”

Singal ordered that Violette’s supervised release terminate when he completes the 27-month sentence.

According to court documents, Violette deposited the settlement check from General Mills, the parent company of Betty Crocker, in his bank account on Dec 19. Violette acted as his own attorney when he filed the product liability lawsuit in September 2018 in federal court in Bangor seeking $250,000 in damages. He claimed that on or about July 16, 2018, he bought two sets of Betty Crocker red measuring spoons to use to measure a coconut oil and peanut butter mix he eats daily. The Betty Crocker emblems on two tablespoons came off and got into his food, sickening him, he claimed.

The amount of the settlement was not made public until U.S. Probation and Pretrial Service filed an amended motion to revoke Violette’s probation last month.

Violette originally was indicted in May 2000 after federal agents uncovered a sophisticated, expansive fraud scheme that lasted nine years and included illegally withdrawing funds from financial institutions in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Kennebec counties.

On Oct. 30, 2002, Singal sentenced Violette to seven years and three months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of making false statements to financial institutions, six counts of mail fraud, three counts of money laundering, and one count each of wire fraud and bankruptcy fraud.

In addition to prison time, the judge sentenced Violette to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay more than $422,600 in restitution. In a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office, the remaining 70 counts were dismissed.

At his original sentencing more than 16 years ago, Violette claimed to have a doctorate in business from a university that advertised degrees for sale on matchbook covers.

Violette first was released from prison after earning some good time and began serving his supervised release in December 2008, according to court documents. He was sent back to prison in March 2014 for 10 months for violating the conditions of his release.

Sixteen months later, Singal sent Violette back to prison for 18 months for failing to pay restitution that then totaled nearly $406,500. The judge also found that Violette had tried to hide assets by transferring money to his wife.

As of Tuesday, Violette owed more than $413,510 in restitution and interest, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Violette had been held at the Somerset County Jail for about a month, since his bail was revoked. That time will be applied to his sentence.



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