NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WWBT) - A Virginia seafood company has pleaded guilty to illegally labeling foreign crab meat.
Michael P. Casey, of Poquoson, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newport News, for his participation in a conspiracy to falsely label foreign crab meat as “Product of USA.”
Casey was the Vice President for Marketing and Operations of Casey’s Seafood, Inc., a wholesale seafood processing company.
The President and owner of the company, James Casey, also pleaded guilty and received a 48-month sentence in January.
As part of the plea, Michael Casey confessed to knowing that company employees unpacked foreign crab meat from Indonesia, China, Thailand and Vietnam.
The meat was then re-packaged into containers with the company name, and labeled “Product of USA.”
The company falsely labeled over 183 tons of crab meat, which was then sold to grocery stores.
Casey admitted that due to the decline in Atlantic blue crab, he and the company did not process enough of the meat to meet customer demands.
The foreign crab meat was then used to fulfill customer orders to make up the shortfall.
Casey also admitted he was aware that company employees were directed to unpack foreign crab meat from suppliers’ containers, mix it with domestic blue crab and other types of crab and re-pack the crab meat into company containers, labeled “Product of USA.”
He also admitted that part of the conspiracy was to buy foreign discounted crab meat, labeled as “distressed” because it was near or beyond posted “best used by” dates, and “re-condition” the meat by re-pasteurizing it.
The Vice President also said that company employees placed “Product of USA” labels on containers that hid labels marked as “Product of China” and “Product of Brazil.”
Casey’s sentencing will take place on Nov. 14, 2019. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to falsely label crab meat is five years in prison and a fine of up to half the gross gain of the offense.
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