News and Press Releases

FLORIDA SEAFOOD COMPANY PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO VIOLATE THE LACEY ACT FOR MISLABELING OF SHRIMP AND SALMON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hal Robbins, Special Agent in Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Adam Putnam, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), announced that defendant Mark Platt (“Platt”), 52, of Boca Raton, and Shifco, Inc. (“Shifco”), located in Hialeah, pled guilty to a four-count Superseding Information, charging them with conspiring to commit Lacey Act violations. According to the Superseding Information, Platt and Shifco, whose majority shareholder is Platt, in concert with Northern Fisheries Ltd (“Northern”), conspired to violate the Lacey Act.

From January through February of 2010, Platt, Shifco and Northern, engaged in a scheme through which Platt oversaw the false repackaging and labeling of 1,500 pounds of frozen chum Salmon fillets. The fillets, which were “Product of China,” were re-labeled as being chum Salmon fillets, “Product of Russia.” In addition, Platt and Shifco pled guilty to a scheme to re-label more than a million pounds of less marketable shrimp from Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as being from Panama, Ecuador, and Honduras. The shrimp had an estimated retail value of between $250,000 and $1,000,000.

The mislabeling of foods such as fish and shrimp is prohibited by the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d)(1) and 3372(d)(2), and the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), 21 U.S.C. § 331. The Lacey Act, in pertinent part, makes it unlawful for a person to falsely identify any fish which has been, or is intended to be, imported, sold, purchased, or received from any foreign country or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. The FDCA, in pertinent part, prohibits the alteration or removal of the whole or any part of the labeling of food, if such act is done while such article is held for sale after shipment in interstate commerce.

Sentencing for both Platt and Shifco is scheduled for March 11, 2011 before U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro. Northern previously pled guilty on December 14, 2010, to one count of an Indictment charging the mislabeling of Salmon, Product of China as Salmon, Product of Russia. Sentencing for Northern is scheduled for February 24, 2011 before U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro.

Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of NOAA and the State of Florida for their coordinated investigative efforts. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman O. Hemming, III.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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