Long Island Companies and Owners Charged With Falsely Labeling Squid as Octopus
A federal grand jury indicted two Long Island corporations and their owners for their scheme to falsely label seafood that was later sold across the country. The indictment accuses Roy Tuccillo Sr., 58, and his son, Roy Tuccillo Jr., 31, both of Jericho, and two of their Westbury food processing and distribution companies, Anchor Frozen Foods Inc., and Advanced Frozen Foods Inc., of importing giant squid from Peru and marketing and selling it to grocery stores as octopus. The four defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and violate the Lacey Act, as well as four substantive Lacey Act violations.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Director James Landon of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) announced the indictment today.
“NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is dedicated to enforcing federal marine resource laws, including the Lacey Act and its provisions on mislabeling,” said James Landon, OLE’s Director. “This investigation is a great example of how we collaboratively work with other federal partners, such as the Food and Drug Administration, to combat seafood fraud.”
Octopus and squid are distinct species of fish with great variance in their taxonomy, habitat, and physical characteristics. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits that food companies selling squid market it by its name or as calamari, while octopus is the only acceptable name when selling octopus. In general, octopus has a greater retail price than squid. The indictment alleges that for over three years the defendants fraudulently imported, processed, marketed, sold, and distributed over 113,000 pounds of octopus that was actually squid.
The Lacey Act prohibits submitting false descriptions of fish that were transported and sold in interstate commerce. The defendants are charged with four counts of defrauding grocery stores in New Jersey and Massachusetts.
This case was investigated by the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement with assistance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ryan Connors and Senior Trial Attorney David Kehoe of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.