Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Oct. 8
He gets 37 months for cheating government on trade
He said imported goods would be sold in other countries. They weren't.
Gerardo Chavez was sentenced today (July 1) to 37 months in prison for violating customs rules. He has to forfeit real estate in Tecate where he has his office, and must attend a future restitution hearing at which he could be ordered to pay millions of dollars to state and federal taxing authorities. Chavez was president of the San Diego Customs Brokers Association, a trade group of professionals in the import-export business. Court documents show that Chavez purchased large quantities of foreign goods and falsified paperwork to make it appear the goods would be transshipped to other countries. But the goods -- including adulterated Mexican food and Salmonella-infected produce -- were sold in U.S. markets. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Chavez taught others in the business how to deceive federal officers.