Cheese Company And Owner Sentenced In Tainted Milk Case
PHILADELPHIA - Lebanon Cheese Company, of Lebanon, NJ and the company’s president, Joseph G. Lotito, of Annandale, NJ, were sentenced today for causing the interstate shipment of adulterated ricotta cheese, in violation of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter ordered the company to pay a fine of $200,000, a $125 special assessment, and ordered a probationary term of four years during which time the company will develop and implement a Compliance and Ethics Plan to ensure that violations of the type charged in this case do not recur. The company was also ordered to inform the Probation Office, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office if it is cited by any federal or state regulatory agency for safety, health or environmental violations while on probation. Judge Rueter ordered company owner Joseph Lotito to serve four years probation, pay a fine of $10,000, and a special assessment of $25.
Lotito and his company manufacture and supply various types of cheese, including ricotta cheese, to restaurants, delis, bakeries and ravioli manufacturers, among others. Some of the milk for that cheese was supplied by D.A. Landis Trucking, Inc. From at least 2008 through July 2009, D.A. Landis Trucking, Inc. supplied at least 20 loads of milk to Lebanon Cheese Co. which had been condemned by Pennsylvania dairy processors for failing screening tests that check for beta lactum antibiotics. Lotito bought the milk at a reduced price and used it in the manufacture of ricotta cheese in violation of the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Lotito and Lebanon Cheese Co.pleaded guilty to the charge May 31, 2012.
Dean Landis and D.A. Landis Trucking, Inc. were charged separately, pleaded guilty to falsifying driver logbooks, and were sentenced to probationary terms and criminal fines (http://www.justice.gov/usao/pae/News/2012/Jul/landis_release.htm). Landis had reported that the condemned milk was dumped at a local farmer's manure pit when, in fact, he had told his drivers to return the condemned loads to the trucking yard where they were pumped into another truck. Landis Trucking drivers then delivered the condemned loads of milk to Lotito at Lebanon Cheese Company where Lotito paid $4 cash per hundred pounds of condemned milk, where the going rate for raw milk at that time ranged from approximately $12 to $23 per hundred pounds, depending on the intended end use.
The compliance program ordered in this case details the procedures that Lotito and Lebanon Cheese Company are to follow for testing raw milk received at the plant.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John J. Pease.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525