Two Tampa Residents and a Tampa-Based Company Charged with Conspiracy to Sell Mislabeled Shrimp
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Otha Easley, Acting Special Agent in Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), Southeast Division, announce the indictment of Walter Schoepf, 59, Karl Degiacomi, 69, and Culinary Specialties, Inc., of Tampa, on charges of conspiracy to sell mislabeled shrimp, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; false labeling of shrimp, in violation of 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d)(1), 3372(d)(2) and 3373(d)(A)(ii); and misbranding, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a), 333(a)(2), 343(a)(1) and 343(b).
According to the indictment, Schoepf and Degiacomi, the owners of Culinary Specialties, conspired with Richard Stowell, United Seafood, Inc., (United), Adrian Vela, and Sea Food Center, to violate the Lacey Act by mislabeling and selling approximately 500,000 pounds of shrimp. The shrimp, valued at more than $400,000, was ultimately sold to supermarkets in the northeastern United States.
In prior court proceedings, Stowell and United pled guilty and were sentenced on April 27, 2011 by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro for their role in the conspiracy. Vela and Sea Food Center also pled guilty and were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard on November 21, 2011.
If convicted, Schoepf and Degiacomi face a statutory maximum sentence of up to five years in prison on the conspiracy and false labeling counts of the indictment. Additionally, the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of up to three years in prison on the misbranding count. Culinary Specialties faces fines of up to $500,000.00 per count. A trial date has not yet been set in this matter.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of NOAA-OLE. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman O. Hemming, III.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.