United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
FISH PROCESSOR SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR SELLING FALSELY LABELED SALMON
Defendant Ordered to Pay Into Environmental Fund as Penalty for Selling Silver Salmon as King
DOUGLAS JAY, 50, a Canadian citizen residing in Ferndale, Washington, was sentenced today to a year in prison, two years of supervised release, and a $347,202 community service payment to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation. JAY pleaded guilty on September 2, 2010, to a violation of the Lacy Act, by falsely labeling fish that were sold in interstate and foreign commerce. JAY directed the workers at his Bellingham fish processing plant, D Jay Enterprises, Inc, to label less valuable Coho (Silver) salmon as Chinook (King) salmon. The false labeling meant JAY could sell the fish at a higher price. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman said the entire seafood industry is damaged when mislabeled fish are sent to the marketplace, damaging consumers’ trust and confidence.
According to records filed in the case, between May 2005, and mid-2007, JAY filled at least 125 orders for Chinook salmon with lower priced and lower quality Coho salmon, placing over 160,072 pounds of falsely labeled fish into interstate and foreign commerce over a two-year period. The government estimates that the market value of the falsely labeled fish was in excess of
$1.3 million. JAY’s Bellingham company, D Jay Enterprises, Inc., has since gone out of business. JAY now operates a different fish processing business, Premiere Packing LLC of Lynden, Washington.
In asking for a prison sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court that JAY “gained a substantial profit from his scheme to defraud customers. His conscious and calculated decision to substitute lower value salmon allowed him to capture a sizable market share by underselling honest competitors engaged in truthful packaging and labeling practices.... Mr. Jay’s fraudulent practices not only gained him a competitive advantage, they also served to undermine consumer confidence in the seafood industry. This loss of confidence inflicts harm on those who rely on consumer confidence for their livelihood.”
Sherrie Tinsley Myers, Special Agent in Charge of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, Alaska Division, confirmed NOAA’s continuing commitment to investigate false labeling cases stated: “We are very pleased with the sentence in this case. Mr. Jay orchestrated and implemented a successful scheme to defraud customers by substituting the lower valued and quality Coho salmon in place of orders for the superior Chinook salmon. Mr. Jay enjoyed a significant competitive advantage over honest seafood distributors by fraudulently increasing his profit margin. The National Marine Fisheries Service is very concerned with the integrity and quality of US seafood, and we hope this sentence demonstrates the seriousness with which we view false labeling.”
The community service payment to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation will be used for programs to protect and restore fishery resources and the habitats on which they depend. The amount of the payment represents the pecuniary gain earned by JAY as a result of his false labeling scheme.
The case was investigated by NOAA and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jim Oesterle. Mr. Oesterle specializes in prosecuting environmental crimes for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.