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Cuba sentences more than a dozen for conspiring to divert millions of eggs to black market

People buy eggs at a a store in Havana, Cuba, Friday, March 20, 2015. More than a dozen Cuban officials have been sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison in connection with what authorities call a scheme to divert millions of eggs to the black market. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

People buy eggs at a a store in Havana, Cuba, Friday, March 20, 2015. More than a dozen Cuban officials have been sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison in connection with what authorities call a scheme to divert millions of eggs to the black market. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

More than a dozen people were sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison for conspiring to divert millions of eggs to the black market, Cuban official media reported Friday.

Eighteen suspects were convicted and one was acquitted, Communist Party newspaper Granma said, in a case where prosecutors had sought terms of up to 20 years.

Granma reported last week that the suspects included executives of the state-run egg distribution company in Havana as well as accountants, drivers and other workers.

They were accused of misappropriating more than 8 million eggs from January to October 2012, causing an estimated $356,000 in losses to the company.

The charges included food theft, generating fraudulent receipts and others.

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The government has tried to crack down on corruption in recent years, sentencing dozens of officials, workers and foreign businesspeople to lengthy terms.

Employees at state-run businesses often pilfer goods from their workplaces to sell on the black market as a way of supplementing government salaries averaging around $20 a month.

Islanders also receive a monthly ration book that provides for part of their food.

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