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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wiebke Produce Pays $100,000 In Illegal Ginseng Harvesting Case

Madison, Wis. - John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Wiebke Produce, Inc., La Crosse, Wis., was sentenced yesterday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker for purchasing and selling wild ginseng that was harvested in Wisconsin in violation of state laws. Wiebke Produce pleaded guilty to this offense on August 6, 2013.

During the plea hearing, Thomas Wiebke admitted on behalf of the corporation that between 2009 and 2011, the La Crosse business had repeatedly purchased wild ginseng for resale that had been harvested in Wisconsin without a Department of Natural Resources harvesting license. 

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Wiebke Produce, Inc., agreed to pay a $50,000 fine to the U.S. Court and an additional $50,000 in restitution to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  Wiebke Produce also agreed to a two-year restriction from buying and selling ginseng in any state.  As part of its plea agreement, Wiebke Produce adopted a “Corporate Compliance Plan” where it agreed to create and enforce corporate policies relating to federal and state natural resources laws and to hire a compliance officer to ensure that Wiebke Produce follows all natural resources laws. 

At yesterday’s sentencing, Magistrate Crocker said that the plea agreement was “comprehensive and fair” and imposed the two-year restriction on ginseng sales from the date of the Wiebke Produce guilty plea.       

United States Attorney Vaudreuil praised the investigation conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stating, "Wisconsin’s natural resources make this a special place.  The fine and forfeiture imposed in this case should send a message to those who would cut corners at the expense of the environment.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin is committed to taking a leadership role in protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources.”

The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O'Shea.

Updated July 14, 2015