News and Press Releases

Culinary Specialties, Inc., Walter Schoepf, and Karl Degiacomi Plead Guilty to Falsely Labeling Shrimp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2012

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, announced that Walter Schoepf, 60, and Karl Degiacomi, 69, pled guilty yesterday to the offense of Lacey Act-False Labeling, in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(d)(2) and 3373(d)(3)(B). Also, Culinary Specialties, Inc., of Tampa, Florida, pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit violations of the Lacey Act and Food Drug and Cosmetics Act (FDCA), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

According to the allegations of the charging instrument, Schoepf and Degiacomi, who are principals, and owners of Culinary, in concert with Florida residents, Richard Stowell, United Seafood, Inc., Adrian Vela, and Sea Food Center, conspired to violate the Lacey Act by mislabeling and selling approximately five hundred thousand pounds of shrimp. The shrimp, valued in excess of $400,000, was ultimately sold to supermarkets in the northeastern United States. Stowell and United pled guilty and were sentenced for their role in the conspiracy on April 27, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro. Vela and Sea Food Center pled guilty and were sentenced for their role in the conspiracy on November 21, 2011, by U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard.

The mislabeling of foods such as fish and shrimp is prohibited by the federal Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d)(1) and 3372(d)(2), and the FDCA, 21 U.S.C. § 331. The Lacey Act, in pertinent part, makes it unlawful for a person to falsely identify any fish that 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 Schoepf, Degiacomi, and Culinary is scheduled for November 19, 2012 before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of NOAA-OLE. 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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