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Not-guilty pleas in Ralphs case

The Associated Press

An executive of the Kroger Co. supermarket chain and three former managers with its Southern California subsidiary Ralphs pleaded not guilty Monday to federal labor fraud charges linked to the 2003-04 supermarket strike and lockout.

A 23-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles accuses the defendants of conspiring to rehire locked-out workers using fake Social Security numbers and identification during the strike.

A trial date of Dec. 23 has been set for Kroger Vice President Scott Drew, 47, of Carmel, Ind., and former Ralphs managers Karen Montoya, 48, of Peoria, Ariz.; Charles Vance, 56, of Norco; and Randall Kruska, 55, of Encinitas, Calif.

If convicted on all charges, they could face maximum sentences of 30 years in prison and fines.

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The supermarket strike and lockout began in October 2003 and lasted four months. Union leaders ordered a strike against Vons and Pavilions stores. Albertsons and Ralphs responded by locking out their employees.

In all, about 59,000 workers were idled at 859 stores, and supermarket chains lost more than $2 billion by some estimates.


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