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DELIVER THEM FROM EVIL

By Glenna Whitley |

CRIME In 1988, CYNTHIA and MICHAEL JACOBSON were being touted by many newspapers and magazines, including this one, as one of the hottest teams in Dallas’ fiercely competitive catering industry. In addition to their party and props business, they launched a line of ’heart-healthy’ meals, gourmet items they would deliver just about anywhere.

But in August, the Jacobsons were charged with violating USDA statutes. “They wanted to go big time,” says PHILLIP UMPHERS, assistant U.S. attorney. They made a deal to sell 400 cases of meat and poultry dishes to Skaggs Alpha Beta. In order to sell to Skaggs, the Jacobsons needed a federal inspection sticker that had been assigned but not yet approved. Under pressure, Umphres says, the Jacobsons printed up stickers bearing the yet-to-be-approved number. But a sharp-eyed USDA inspector caught the first shipment. “There was no allegation that [the products) were unfit for human consumption,” says Umphres, but all 400 cases were confiscated and destroyed. Cynthia Jacobson now is charged with knowingly making false statements on the application to obtain the sticker by failing to list her husband Michael as someone closely connected to the business. If she had, Umphres says, the request would have been denied because Michael had been convicted in 1979 of theft of more than S10,000 after taking money from an investor who thought she was buying into a Granbury utility company. Sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $10,000, Michael was paroled in 1983.

Cynthia Jacobson, charged with one count of violating USDA inspection laws, faces up to five years in prison; Michael could face up to 20 years. With trial set for November, Michael says he considers the charges “a non-issue” and insists a civil set-tlement is forthcoming.

“They were people in a hurry, and they didn’t think the rules applied to them,” says Umphres.

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