Tyson heir and CFO settles trespassing, intoxication charges

This booking photo shows John R. Tyson, Tyson Foods chief financial officer. (Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

Tyson Foods Chief Financial Officer John R. Tyson – a great-grandson of the company’s founder – has settled public intoxication and criminal trespassing charges filed against him after he broke into a stranger’s home and fell asleep on her bed.

Tyson pleaded guilty to both misdemeanors in a district court in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Tuesday, according to the Fayetteville city prosecutor’s office. He also agreed to pay $300 in fines and $140 in court fees.

According to an incident report provided by the Fayetteville, Arkansas, police department, officers received a call on Nov. 7 from a woman who had returned home to find a man she didn’t know sleeping in her bed.

When officers arrived, they tried to wake Tyson but said his movements were “sluggish and uncoordinated” and there was an odor of intoxicants on his breath and body. His clothes were found on the floor.

A few days later, Tyson sent a companywide email apologizing for the incident, saying he was embarrassed and was getting counseling for alcohol abuse.

In early December, Tyson Foods’ board said a committee of directors had reviewed the incident and taken unspecified actions.

“The board supports Mr. Tyson and has continued confidence in his ability to lead Tyson Foods as CFO,” the board said in a statement.

But some investors have questioned a September leadership shake-up that elevated the 32-year-old John R. Tyson to chief financial officer. He is the son of Tyson Foods Chairman John H. Tyson and is a former investment banker who joined Tyson Foods in 2019.

“Look, those of us who have followed Tyson for a long time are used to the company… putting people into the CFO role who have 20-plus years of experience in the finance track,” said Robert Moskow, an equity analyst with Credit Suisse, during a November conference call with investors.

Tyson President and CEO Donnie King defended John R. Tyson during the call, saying he has had escalating levels of responsibility since joining the company.

“Don’t forget about the fact that he’s been involved in this business essentially his whole life,” King added.