After being suspended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for distributing contaminated beef in January and finally shut down and sold to Marin Sun Farms
in February, owners and employees of Rancho Feeding Corporation are being charged for knowingly purchasing cancerous cattle among other shady business, making for 11 felony counts
The former Petaluma slaughterhouse was co-owned by Jesse Amaral Jr. and Robert Singleton. Two of their employees at the time, Eugene Corda and Felix Cabrera, are also involved in the case. Amaral Jr., Corda, and Cabrera are all charged with "conspiring to distribute adulterated, misbranded, and uninspected meat" and mail fraud for using the U.S. Postal Service to handle their tainted meat, according to Eater
. Singleton is being charged with a "single count of distributing adulterated, misbranded, and uninspected meat," KQED reports
The trio of defendants, Amaral Jr., Corda, and Cabrera, were said to knowingly buying cheaper cattle that had fell victim to eye cancer, or at least were showing signs of it. They would then remove the heads of the ill cattle, place them with the healthy cattle heads, and make the switch when inspectors were on their lunch breaks. Other workers were also directed to remove the "USDA Condemned stamps out of the carcasses."
, issued Aug. 14, states that from January 2013 to January 2014, Rancho processed and distributed, for human consumption, about 101 condemned cattle and 79 cows that exhibited signs of eye cancer.
When the ranch was suspended, a recall of 10 million pounds of beef from their facilities followed soon after. The recalled meat had been sold to retailers such as Walmart and Krogers, and even used in Hot Pockets
Amaral Jr. was released on a $50,000 bail after giving a not guilty plea during an Aug. 14 hearing. However, KQED reports that the U.S. Attorney's office expects Singleton to plead guilty. Any word on Corda and Cabrera's cases is "pending."
The defendants are looking at "hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and up to 20 years in prison."