Crime & Justice

Ralphs pleads no contest to overcharging customers

Ralphs Grocery Co. has pleaded no contest to overcharging customers for prepackaged and weighed products at stores in Los Angeles.

The city attorney's office said the grocery store chain entered pleas Monday, shortly before the case was scheduled to go to trial. The no contest plea was entered for 62 misdemeanor charges, including false advertising, mislabeling and selling items that weigh less than they should.

A sentencing date will be set Thursday.

Ralphs believes the charges involved isolated events, but it has redoubled its efforts to ensure accuracy, said Kendra Doyel, vice president for marketing.

The case originally named Ralphs' parent company, the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., but Doyel said those charges have been dropped.

In a statement, Ralphs said company representatives "spent countless hours working with the city attorney's office to try to reach a settlement agreement that was acceptable to both our customers and their office."

City prosecutors alleged that undercover inspections at 14 stores found customers were being gouged.

Ralphs was cited for similar violations in 2008 and 2009 and paid nearly $17,000 in fines.

© 2011 The Associated Press.