The charges come after a massive global recall of 8.7 million lb. of meat
Rancho Feeding Corp., a slaughterhouse in Petaluma, Calif., was indicted on Thursday for processing carcasses that had been condemned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and for selling beef that came from cancerous cattle. Following a massive product recall, owners Robert Singleton and Jesse Amaral Jr., as well as employees Eugene Corda and Felix Cabrera, were charged with 11 felony counts including knowingly processing and distributing uninspected meat. If convicted, the four could be facing sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
Operations at Rancho Feeding Corp. were suspended in January when the USDA recalled 8.7 million lb. of beef from stores throughout the world. The indictment documents, unsealed on Monday, allege that co-owner Amaral instructed employees to decapitate the heads of cows with eye cancer, and to switch them with the heads of healthy cows, in order to evade inspectors. Documents also allege that Amaral directed employees to remove the “USDA condemned” brand from carcasses prior to processing. Nearly 200 condemned and cancerous cows were subsequently sold to stores globally between 2012 and 2013.
Jeffrey Bornstein, a lawyer previously representing Amaral, told the San Francisco Chronicle in February that his defendant’s company was always “considered one of the top meat processors in the state. He is very sorry for any impact that this situation has caused to his customers and to the meat-buying public.”
Rancho Feeding Corp. was sold to Marin Sun Farms in February.