Final pleas in Rancho Feeding case

by Erica Shaffer
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SAN FRANCISCO – The former owner of Petaluma, Calif.-based Rancho Feeding Corp. pleaded guilty to charges of selling meat from condemned cows and dairy cows with eye cancer.

Jesse “Babe” Amaral, Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat, the US Attorney's Office, Northern District of California reported.

“Amaral admitted that from 2012 through Jan. 10, 2014, he knowingly and with intent to defraud directed Rancho employees to process for human consumption cattle that had been condemned by the USDA veterinarian; to circumvent inspection procedures for certain cattle exhibiting symptoms of cancer eye; and to process these cancer eye cattle for human consumption without full inspection,” the agency said in a statement. “Amaral further admitted knowingly causing Rancho to submit fraudulent cattle invoices to farmers between at least 2012 and January 2014.”

Also involved in the scheme was Robert Singleton, owner of Petaluma-based Rancho Veal Corp. Singleton pleaded guilty to charges employees were instructed to carve the “USDA Condemned” stamps out of cattle carcasses; to conceal from USDA inspection cows showing signs of cancer eye and to process the carcasses for human consumption. He also admitted participating in the scheme to fraudulently invoice farmers.

Felix Sandoval Cabrera, Rancho’s “kill floor” supervisor, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute adulterated, misbranded, and uninspected meat on Nov. 26, 2014. Eugene Corda, Rancho’s yardman, pleaded guilty to the same offense on Oct. 10.

Amaral’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 1, while a status hearing is scheduled for Singleton, Cabrera and Corda on Aug. 12. The maximum penalties for conspiracy to distribute adulterated meat are five years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.

Rancho Feeding recalled approximately 8.7 million lbs. of meat products. After company closed, Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station, Calif., acquired the processor's slaughterhouse.
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