Florida Man Accused Of Snatching More Than 4 Million Pounds Of Citrus

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services arrested a Polk County man for illegally obtaining more than 4 million pounds of citrus worth more than $540,000 from five victims.

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According to the department’s investigation, Bradley D. Reiter, owner and operator of Reiter Citrus Inc. in Winter Haven, allegedly:

  • Entered into contract with Gabriel Family Partners to purchase citrus and removed 13,108 boxes of oranges between March 20 and April 16, 2014 and never paid the business for the fruit or its rise value.
  • Entered into contract with Gabriel Groves Inc. to purchase citrus and removed 1,599 boxes of grapefruit and 20,468 boxes of oranges between March 26 and April 28, 2014 and never paid the business for the fruit or its rise value.
  • Entered into contract with Sandlake Groves LLC to purchase citrus and removed 10,907 boxes of oranges between April 29 and May 14, 2014 and never paid the business for the fruit or its rise value.
  • Entered a grove owned by a Bartow resident without permission and removed 180 boxes of citrus and then provided the resident with a check that only represented half of the actual value of the fruit.
  • Entered into a written agreement with another Bartow resident to purchase citrus and removed 570 boxes of citrus fruit and never paid the resident for the fruit.

Reiter was booked into the Polk County Jail and is facing multiple charges, including scheme to defraud, grand theft, and dealing citrus without a license.

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Avatar for Matt Matt says:

Is it common in Florida to NOT pay for wholesale produce at the time of sale to someone who you have never done business with? This seems very strange to me. I have a hard time selling a few thousand dollars worth of produce to a new customer without knowing who they are and if they will pay.

I wonder what “Removed” means in this article? Did he go and take the produce or did he pick it up and just never pay? There is a distinct difference. One implies theft and the other default on payment. One has an immediate criminal aspect to it. The other is also criminal if he did not pay, but the business itself was aware of what was being delivered.

Would like to know more about this whole situation. The fact that he entered someone’s private grove and stole (harvested?) produce that was not his would get him shot on my property. I have had to shoot at people trying to steal sweet corn and squash in the past. These low life people think the are grabbing 30 dozen or several hundred pounds and it is no big deal. Hello??? What would you do if someone broke into your house and tried to steal your xbox or TV? I don’t shoot to kill, but rather to make them fill their pants and stand still until the sheriff gets there. The cops don’t necessarily like me shooting at people, but I have a legal right to do so. They now make more frequent passes by the fields and stop people who they don’t recognize and question what they are doing there and ask if they know who owns the produce. Don’t know us, go to jail.

Avatar for M Davis M Davis says:

Matt, you would SHOOT someone over vegetables?

You give responsible gun owners a bad name.

Avatar for Matt Matt says:

@M Davis

I would never shoot to kill unless they were somehow threatening me, my family or employees with physical harm. However, seeing someone shoot who is walking in your general direction and yelling “Get on the ground. The Sheriff has been called” has a very strong effect on would be thieves. I don’t usually do this alone either. My father, older boys and I surround the people if possible before any shots are fired so there is no escape.

Most of the people we have stopped have between $300 and $500 picked if sold retail. Any item produced by a farmer which is stolen and the total value of the items stolen is $300 or more commits a felony in a Wisconsin. These people think farmers have all of this produce and a “small amount” of tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, etc. will not be missed. What THEY miss is that 100lbs of tomatoes and 20-30 dozen sweet corn and a few cases of peppers is already well over $300 retail. We have low life’s in our area, which range from hmog and other immigrant “farmers” to random people, who we have caught pillaging our fields at night.

I use Cisco wireless access points and cheap Chinese security cameras with powerful infrared LEDS to watch all of the fields not in the immediate vicinity of the farm. We have motion alerts setup on all access roads so we know when someone pulls of the main road or down one of the farm access roads. We get e-mailed pictures on our phones so we know when someone if in the fields at night.

It is then a race against time to get everyone to the field and in place before the people take off (yes it is that bad with a few acres of tomatoes in a semi-urban area).

Most of neighbors now know about this as well and we give away some produce to “purchase” some surveillance as well. It is amazing how a little free food makes neighbors think of the field as “theirs” as well.

So would I kill someone over produce? No, of course not. Would I scare the hell out of them and make it seem like I would kill them. Hell yes. That is what the cops do when they want to arrest someone. The project a very strong sense of authority to make people comply. Stealing from my field is no different than stealing from your fridge. If you kept your money for the year in your fridge and saw someone raiding it, would you just let them take it or would you try and stop them? The answer to that will be based on how much money you have and how much you make. If someone is taking the money you need to live, then you bet your bottom dollar your are going to try and stop them.

Avatar for Jeanie Glass Jeanie Glass says:

Matt…please define ‘hmog.’

Avatar for Matt Matt says:

@Jeanie Glass
These are usually people who have immigrated from China, Laos, Vietnam, etc. They have no or little respect for private property, etc. I have caught different people from the same ethnic group stealing produce, trespassing, etc.

I am pretty sure it is a cultural thing. After a few visits from the police the particular offenders usually stop. The following year though we usually have problems with a new batch.

I would never think of walking onto my neighbors fields and harvesting some of his produce without permission. I can’t fathom why, other than for cultural reasons, they would think it is ok to steal.

Avatar for andrew andrew says:

It is likely that they went about his from a marketing standpoint and were advertising as the middle man for the farmers and they in turn would sell the merchandise taking a percent off for finding the clients that were buying such merchandise. In turn they marketed the fruit as their own or already paid for and just never paid the farmers. I could be wrong in how this was done, but this is how I would scam them if it were me. Obviously we are assuming they had fraudulent documents to get the farmers to sign to feel reassured.

Avatar for Carol Carol says:

Matt; Brad Reiter was a citrus buyer, he hired the harvesters and haulers to come in and harvest the fruit and deliver it to what ever juice plant he sold it to. He had contracts with these people, but he never paid them for the fruit. He has victims in Hillsborough and Pasco counties as well. As far as is this normal in Florida, Yes it is how we have sold our fruit for years. He is not the first, though most of the others filed Bankruptcy to avoid criminal charges, but the damage they did is just as bad, if you work all year and invest money only to have your fruit stolen, it hurts. The cost of growing citrus has gone up incredibly over the last decade, with citrus greening, water PH issues, and all the other things we deal with. This is just adding insult to injury for most of us smaller groves. Also, when they say 4 million pounds, that is the weight of the juice extracted from the fruit, not the weight of the fruit itself. (We are paid by pound solids not by field boxes)

Avatar for Matt Matt says:

@carol

This is very interesting information about how Citrus is marketed. I guess being from “up north” in Wisconsin where most produce is sold by weight, box or bin it was new to me that a custom hire operation comes in to harvest and sell the produce. The closest thing we have to that is the canning companies. They tell you what to grow and then come and custom harvest it. You receive contract and get paid (hopefully) in the very near future. The difference is there is no middle man broker. You sell directly to the processor who usually has a locally operated facility. There is no easy way for them to squirm out of the contract as they usually have millions of dollars tied up in facilities and equipment.

The fact that you are paid on lbs juice and not on lbs delivered would make me really nervous. You are essentially at their mercy to report weight correctly. Up here the canning companies use a third party weigh scale and have to weigh in empty and then weigh in full. You are paid (for sweet corn anyway) based on tons provided, which includes the whole ear. There is no easy way for them to fudge the weight. Contracts are written long before any corn is planted and payment is based solely on tons provided.

If I were a grower I would want to make sure that the broker is sufficiently capitalized BEFORE I sold anything to him. If he doesn’t have enough money to pay the grower and must wait to be paid from a buyer, then what good is the broker? We don’t wait to get paid from the grocery store or institution until after they sell or use our produce. I would think Florida growers would do well to form cooperatives that take care of the marketing themselves. Cut out the broker and only deal with processors who can actually pay for the product that is delivered. Maybe that is already done by some?

Avatar for Jeanie Glass Jeanie Glass says:

Carol-how has the water pH changed for growers in recent years?

Avatar for TK TK says:

Florida Man, worst superhero ever.

Avatar for . . says:

Do you know what a purchase order is? It’s very common to pick up goods, for the company to Bill them and then the other party just never pays. Very, very normal

Avatar for Rick Rick says:

I know this person and have been in the industry for many years. Unfortunately this is more common than this report is showing in the citrus business in Florida. I will say they are the most trusting farmers I have worked with and been a part of and am proud to be associated with the good in the industry.
Rick