PHOENIX - Michael Gilliland, a founder of Sunflower Farmers Market, was sentenced on Thursday, Jan. 8, to 30 days in jail and one year of probation after pleading guilty to one count of attempted pandering.

Gilliland started serving the sentence immediately, said Jerry Cobb, a Maricopa County Court spokesman. Gilliland will serve two separate 15-day jail terms at a Maricopa County Jail location in the Phoenix area, Cobb said. The sentence comes after Gilliland's 2011 arrest after soliciting sex from a woman whom he believed to be 17 years old.

Cobb said he did not immediately have more details about why Gilliland had been sentenced to two terms with an unspecified period of freedom between them, rather than to a single 30-day term. If Gilliland successfully completes the jail sentence and terms of probation, the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor on his record, Cobb said.
Gilliland had offered to serve a jail sentence of five months with a furlough arrangement that would allow him to check out of jail during the day to work and check back into jail at night, Cobb said. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office rejected that agreement, Cobb said.

Gilliland was arrested in February 2011 in connection with a prostitution sting by undercover Phoenix police department officers. He initially was charged with one felony count of child prostitution.

In particular, Gilliland was accused of offering to pay $100 for sex with a female he believed to be 17 but who turned out to be an undercover police officer, according to Maricopa County court documents.

Gilliland resigned from his post as chief executive and chairman of Sunflower Farmers Market after the arrest. He started the natural grocery store chain in 2002.

Sunflower was bought by Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market in March. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Sprouts said at the time that it would be a $2 billion company after the transaction was complete.