Supervalu Co. Agrees to Pay $2.5M in Bribery Suit

Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, a Supervalu subsidiary, and two of its former executives have been accused of bribing Maryland state Senator Ulysses Currie.

Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, a Supervalu subsidiary, announced Monday that it will pay a $2.5 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid indictment and prosecution in a bribery lawsuit that the federal government filed earlier this month.

According to the complaint-which was filed September 1 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore-Maryland state Senator Ulysses Currie was bribed between 2002 and 2008 by William White, former president of Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, and R. Kevin Small, former vice president for real estate development at Shoppers Food & Pharmacy.

Currie allegedly received multiple payments that totaled $245,816. According to the suit, White told Supervalu executives that he hired Currie to act as a consultant in the areas of community relations, community leadership opportunities, public affairs, and minority recruitment and outreach efforts.

Instead, the suit says that White agreed to pay Currie to use his official position and influence in ways that would benefit the business and the financial interests of the company, White, and Small.

In May 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation started an investigation into Shoppers Food & Pharmacy's relationship with Currie and the work that he performed on behalf of the company. Currie and White both made false statements to investigators when interviewed, according to the complaint.

The $2.5 million fine that Supervalu is paying is part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the government. As part of the agreement, Supervalu will also cooperate with the government in its investigation of the former executives.

“We chose to resolve this case so that we could put this matter behind us and focus on our current business initiatives,” Supervalu said in a statement. “It is of the utmost importance to our executive management team and the leadership at [Shoppers Food & Pharmacy] that our company adheres to the highest ethical standards at all levels of the organization. We will continue working to ensure the highest standards going forward.”

Eden Prairie-based Supervalu operates a network of approximately 4,290 stores and employs about 160,000. It is Minnesota's fourth-largest company based on revenue, which totaled $40.6 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.

-Melissa Loth