Disclaimer: Good Week/Bad Week is presented by the authority of the Ponds Institute and The Sheboygan FOE. Funding for Good Week/Bad Week is provided by the Society for Relentless Esoterica and the not-for-profit Dyslexics of the Universe Untie! While items in this column are based on real news events, most everything else is made of gossamer wings. Unless otherwise indicated, quotes have not been verified, corroborated, or even spell-checked, and generally contain obscure references to black-and-white TV shows and minor Greek poets. Public figures in this column tend to come off looking bad, and should refrain from engaging legal counsel to be made whole again. It can’t be done.
When reading this column, bear in mind that the author has an axe to grind and a pea-shooter for a brain. Good Week/Bad Week is counter-indicated for thinkers, dues-paying members of Mensa, and anybody else with half a brain.
The punctuation in this column is accurate, although a colonoscopy was performed to remove all extraneous colons.
No animals were injured in the making of Good Week/Bad Week. OK, once I swatted a fly.
1. Cheese Lovers
In one of the most bizarre cases of corporate fraud in U.S. history — and that’s saying something — the CEO and CFO of now-defunct cheese maker Suprema Specialties Inc. were indicted Monday on charges that they perpetuated a massive scam. The swindle? They didn’t actually have any cheese at the cheese shop (cue bouzouki music). “Suprema was essentially an illusion as a business and a lie for investors,” said U.S. Attorney Christopher “Chris” Christie at a press conference. “It was in business to provide a means for fraud. There’s not even an SIC code for that.”
According to reports, Mark Cocchiola, the 49-year-old founder of Suprema, and Steven Venechanos, the company’s former chief financial officer, were charged in a 38-count federal court indictment. Charges include bank fraud, securities fraud, mail fraud, and ruminant fraud. In addition, at the arraignment on Wednesday, the two former executives both acknowledged that deep down, they feel like frauds. “We don’t like cheese, or milk for that matter,’ Venechanos told a judge. “We won’t even sit at the same dinner table with a carton of milk.” The judge later classified the fraud as a hate crime, telling defense attorneys “this is clearly a case of lactose intolerance.”
The indictment claims that the disgraced executives had hoped to parlay the 1997 inheritance of a large cattle farm in Hamburg, New Jersey, into a thriving cheese-making business. The alleged plan, which the two executives apparently referred two as “the 2 percent solution” in internal E-mails, commenced sometime in 2001. According to the government, the men participated with major customers to falsely inflate Suprema’s sales by creating fake invoices. Those bogus invoices — which made up the bulk of the $600 million in business with the customers who were party to the scheme — made it appear as if the company had sold cheese to the customers.