MIAMI BEACH BUSINESSMAN PLEADS GUILTY FOR MISUSE OF GOVERNMENT SEALS
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Inspector General, Southeast Region, announced that Luis Salom, 48, of Miami Beach, Florida, was arraigned and pled guilty today before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea Simonton to charges related to the fraudulent use of the seal and logo of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Sentencing is set for April 28, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge M. Michael Moore. Salom could receive a sentence of up to 5 years’ imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine.
According to government’s factual statement proffered in support of the guilty plea, statements in Court, and Court records, Salom, operating as Southern Foods and Commodities, Inc., was engaged in brokering the sale of food products, including cocoa powder, to Panama. The Panamanian government, in order to assure the safety of certain food product imports, enacted a law that required certificates to accompany the imports of those food products, officially attesting to their wholesomeness. In June 2009, Salom created a false “Certificate of Human Consumption” that appeared to have been authored by a USDA employee in Ripon, Wisconsin, and bore a falsified logo and seal of the USDA. The fraudulent Certificate was used to secure entry of a shipment of approximately 19,000 pounds of chocolate products into Panama, worth approximately $34,734.00.
Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of USDA-OIG and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Compliance Officers who successfully investigated this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald of the Economic and Environmental Crimes Section.
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.