A Newport News, Virginia seafood wholesaler faces federal criminal charges, accused of blending foreign crab meat with Atlantic blue crab meat and passing it off as an authentic “Product of USA.”Casey’s Seafood in Newport News
According to court documents, 74-year-old James B. Casey, owner of Casey’s Seafood, “knowingly conspired to replace Atlantic blue crab with crab meat from Indonesia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Central and South America.”
He apparently told employees to take foreign crab meat from its original container, combine it with crab meat from another processor, and put it into different containers that were labeled as “Product of the U.S.A.,” despite knowing that the contents were imported crab meat. Casey is also accused of telling employees to cover up labels that said “Product of Brazil” or “Product of China” with “Product of the U.S.A.” labels.
Court documents show this went on from at least July 2012 through June 2015, and the company falsely labelled at least 3,978,917 pounds of crab meat, worth millions of dollars.
After a 2015 raid at the Casey’s Seafood packing plant, grocery store chains including Harris Teeter and Farm Fresh stopped selling the company’s crab meat, according to a Virginian-Pilot report.
Casey has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, and could face up to five years in prison.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana J. Boente, announced the charges along with leaders from the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security and the FDA also helped in the investigation.