LOUISIANA SEAFOOD PACKAGER PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRING TO MISLABEL COMMERCIALLY SOLD SHRIMP
DORAN SEAFOOD, LLC (formerly doing business as Doran Sea-Pak, LLC), an Independence, Louisiana-based seafood packager, pleaded guilty as charged today in front of United States District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to conspiring to mislabel commercially-sold shrimp, a felony violation of the Lacey Act, announced United States Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, DORAN is an Independence, Louisiana-based company responsible for various aspects of purchasing, importing, processing, packing, labeling, selling, and exporting seafood products, including shrimp. Beginning in November 2007 and continuing through December 2008, DORAN entered into an agreement with WORLDWIDE SHRIMP COMPANY, a Highland Park, Illinois-based distributer of shrimp to supermarkets, retail stores, and other wholesale seafood providers throughout the United States. Under the terms of the arrangement, Worldwide sent Mexican-caught shrimp to DORAN, and DORAN would package the shrimp, including affixing labels depicting the country of origin of the shrimp prior to causing the shrimp to be sent either directly to Worldwide or to other entities to which WORLDWIDE had arranged to sell the shrimp. Worldwide instructed DORAN to label the shrimp as “Product of U.S.A.,” even though it was from Mexico, and to distribute the shrimp using one of Worldwide’s four brand names, “Shrimp King”. Both Worldwide and DORAN were aware that the shrimp was, in fact, of Mexican origin. After packing and mislabeling the Mexican shrimp as a product of the United States, DORAN sent the shrimp to wholesale distributors, who then sold the shrimp to supermarkets, retail stores, and restaurants across the United States.
DORAN admitted that it Doran mislabeled shipments of shrimp, at Worldwide’s direction, on at least four separate occasions between November 2007 and December 2008. The shipments ranged in value between approximately $6,400 and approximately $42,000. In total, the retail value of the shrimp DORAN mislabeled for Worldwide was approximately $109,700.00.
Sentencing has been scheduled for September 13, 2012. DORAN faces a maximum possible fine of $500,000.
Speaking on today’s conviction, U. S. Attorney Jim Letten stated:
“We in the Department of Justice, together with our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will remain vigilant in protecting the right of our citizens and businesses to make informed decisions about the origins and quality of the food they purchase and consume. We will not tolerate fraudulent or misleading labeling or marketing, and will enforce our laws both aggressively and fairly in protecting our people.”
The case was investigated by the United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Office of Law Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
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