News and Press Releases

Company and Two Owners Sentenced on Charges of Mislabeling Shrimp

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 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, were sentenced today on charges of mislabeling shrimp, in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(d)(2) and 3373(d)(3)(B). Their company, Culinary Specialties, Inc., of Tampa, was also sentenced for 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. At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced all defendants to one year of probation. In addition, Culinary Specialties was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

According to documents filed with the court, Schoepf and Degiacomi, owners of Culinary Specialties, conspired with Richard Stowell, United Seafood, Inc., Adrian Vela, and Sea Food Center, to mislabel and sell approximately 500,000 pounds of mislabeled shrimp. The shrimp, valued at more than $400,000, was ultimately sold to supermarkets in the northeastern United States. Stowell and United previously pled guilty to related charges and were sentenced 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.

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 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.

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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