News and Press Releases

FLORIDA AND RHODE ISLAND SEAFOOD COMPANIES SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRACY TO MISLABEL SHRIMP AND SALMON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 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), Adam Putnam, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, announced that defendant Mark Platt (“Platt”), 52, of Boca Raton, Shifco, Inc. (“Shifco”), located in Hialeah, and Northern Fisheries Ltd (“Northern”), located in Rhode Island, were sentenced Friday, March 25, 2011, based on their earlier guilty pleas to conspiring to commit Lacey Act violations.

Platt was sentenced to three years’ probation, six months’ home confinement with electronic monitoring, and restrictions on working in the food industry and seafood industry. Further, Platt was required to complete one hundred hours of community service, including writing an article describing his conduct in the instant case, and assisting in teaching the seafood industry about COOL Regulations and Lacey Act requirements. Northern was sentenced to two years probation, a $3,500 fine and $400 special assessment. Shifco was sentenced to one year probation on each count of conviction, to run concurrently, and a $1,600 special assessment.

From January through February 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.

Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of NOAA, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection Laboratory (“New York Lab”), and the State of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 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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