In September 2004 Jeff Beasley a Morning Star employee met Scott Salyer at Rio Grill Restaurant in Monterey, CA and asked for employment at SK Foods LP. Jeff Beasley worked at Quality Assured Packing in 1995 when it was purchased by John LiDestri and went Bankrupt. Chris Rufer bought it out of Bankruptcy and that became Morning Star. Rufer and LiDestri became partners. Beasley stated to Mr. Salyer that he needs to get out of Morning Star; that Chris Rufer is crazy, a crook and he believed had Jerry Gilbert, the Williams plant manager, who he knew well, assassinated in June 2003.
In October 2004 Randall Rahal recommended Tony Manual to Scott Salyer for employment. During the first interview with Scott Salyer in Stockton, CA, Manual stated he wanted out of Morning Star in the worst way. At his then employer, Morning Star they were in the midst of the worst contamination in the tomato industry history. Tomato paste, flat sours, which is the loss of sterility and is not permitted in commercial use. From his airplane, Mr. Salyer saw steam still coming out of the Morning Star Williams factory in September and October of 2004. During two separate job interviews Mr. Salyer was able to ascertain that Manual had a valid reason to want to leave his current employment and apply to SK Foods L.P. Manual had been working with Chris Rufer since prior to 1995 there would have to be a valid reason in Mr. Salyer’s mind as to why Manual would want to leave Morning Star and come to work at SK Foods LP. Mr. Salyer was of the opinion that Manual was knowledgeable in the industry. It was not until 2008 That Mr. Salyer made the realization that Manual was a Morning Star plant at SK Foods LP. During the October 2004 interview Manual explained as to why steam was still coming out of the Williams factory when tomato processing season was finished and disclosed that they were remanufacturing 60 million pounds of the flat sours for Heinz 57 Sauce. He stated that Dan Nolan, VP Operations at Heinz, requested from his boss, Bill Johnson, a 20 million dollar transfer paid to Morning Star. According to Manual, Chris Rufer had told Dan Nolan that if they did not pay for the paste, (and they will remanufacture it for them in that price), Morning Star would go bankrupt and into default on the Wells Fargo loan. Heinz is the loan guarantor.
In January 2005 Mr. Salyer then contacted Dan Nolan, who Salyer had previously felt was an honest guy and questioned him. Dan Nolan told Salyer to “look at it if you were in my shoes, we had no choice we did not have 60 million pounds of paste anywhere in the world. We either reman the bad paste or Morning Star goes into default on their Wells Fargo Loan. If Morning Star goes into default then as the guarantor Heinz has to call an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors and either take over the entire company or pay Wells Fargo. It was better to just reman the paste, pay Morning Star the 20 million dollars that it needed to stay out of default with Wells Fargo”. Mr. Salyer states that nothing that met this description had ever happened in tomatoes to his knowledge and did not know what one would do with a conversation like that. Heinz and Morning Star had their partnership going and Salyer considered it to be none of his business. SK Foods LP was not involved. All that said it seemed reasonable to him that not only would Jeff Beasley want out of that company so would Tony Manual. Tony Manual started his new job on February 1, 2005 and in 2006 Mike Poretti asked Beasley to get him hired on at SK Foods as well.