News and Press Releases

MIAMI BEACH BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED FOR MISUSE OF GOVERNMENT SEALS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2011

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), Southeast Region, announced today that Luis Salom, 48, of Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced today in Miami in U.S. District Court to charges related to the fraudulent use of the seal and logo of the United States Department of Agriculture.

United States District Court Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced Salom to three years of federal probation, a criminal fine of $2,000, and imposed as a special conditions of the probation that Salom serve six months of home confinement, electronically monitored, and that he submit to substance abuse treatment.

According to the government’s factual statement proffered in support of Salom’s guilty plea, statements in Court, and Court records, Salom, operating as Southern Foods and Commodities, Inc., was engaged in the business of 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, at Miami Beach, Salom created a false “Certificate of Human Consumption” that appeared to have been authored by a USDA employee in Ripon, Wisconsin, and bore falsified logo and seal of the Agency. The employee, in fact, did not exist, and the purported tests of the chocolate product had never been conducted. 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. According to government records at least six separate shipments, with a wholesale value of approximately $86,000, were accompanied by false documents created by Salom in order to promote his export business.

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.

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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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