Fish Packer from Quincy, MA Sentenced for the Misleading Labeling of Fish from China; Tried to Redefine “Wildlife” in his Defense

Posted by erik devaney

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Looking for a quick and simple way to increase the value of your frozen fish fillets from China? You could always use Quincy resident Stephen C. Delaney, Jr.’s strategy: take the fillets out of their original boxes, put them in new boxes and then stick on nice, new labels that read “United States,” “Canada,” or “Holland.”

Of course, I would highly recommend you avoid this practice, unless you want to be slapped with a $5,000 fine and sentenced to three months of house arrest. Delaney, former president of South Shore Fisheries, received this punishment after being convicted of a felony violation of the Lacey Act (for knowingly mislabeling fish) as well as a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (for misbranding seafood).

Court documents show that through his illegal labeling practices, Delaney changed approximately $203,000-worth of Chinese fish fillets (mostly sole) into filets (mostly flounder) from Canada, the United States, Holland and other countries. In one instance, on or around April 15th of 2009, Delaney falsely labeled approximately $8,000-worth of pollock filets from China so that they could be sold as cod loins from Canada. Evidence from Delaney’s trial — United States Vs. Stephen C. Delaney, Jr. — established that the price of cod is about $1-per-pound higher than the price of pollock.

In an attempt to have his felony charge acquitted, Delaney called in to question the Lacey Act’s definition of “wildlife.” Essentially, if Delaney could have proved that the fish he purposely mislabeled were domesticated and not wild, he would not have been in violation of the Lacey Act. Unfortunately for Delaney, the government didn’t buy into his new definition. As a memorandum points out:

Under Delaney’s proposed definition of what it means to be wild, a domestic animal, say a house cat, that is separated from its owner and lives in a feral state, however briefly before finding its way home, would be classified as wildlife, while a lion that is born and raised in captivity and spends its life in a zoo would be classified as a domestic animal. The pollock at issue here, whether raised in a pen or caught on the high seas is an unmastered species that has not been bred to live under human care and therefore meets any reasonable biological definition of what it means to be a ‘wild’ animal.

In light of the crimes he was convicted of, Delaney got off easy in his sentencing. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, his felony false labeling charge could have earned him a fine of up to $250,000 and a maximum of five years in jail. In addition, the misdemeanor misbranding charge could have tacked on an extra $100,000 in fines and an additional year in jail.

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Posted by erik devaney on Sep 22 2011. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article, Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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