Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Enforcement of meat inspections not limited to Secretary of Ag

eagletoncourthouse_406x250Congress was not “clear and unambiguous,” but the “better reading” of federal law finds it did not intend to withhold jurisdiction from the district courts in deciding criminal violations under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. That finding by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit means the criminal convictions of William B. Aossey Jr., Jalel Aossey and Midamar Corp. all stand.

William B. Aossey was convicted by a jury trial on July 3, 2015, on 15 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and falsifying export certificates. In addition to two years of imprisonment, he was fined $60,000 and ordered to forfeit $184,933 and pay prosecution costs of $16,824. In plea agreements, Midamar president Jalel Aossey and Midamar Corp. on Sept. 9, 2015, entered guilty pleas for conspiracy and accepted terms of a consent degree with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The three defendants were involved in the combined appeal of their convictions based on the argument that Congress gave exclusive enforcement authority under the Federal Meat Inspection Act to the Secretary of Agriculture, meaning federal district courts have no jurisdiction.

The 8th Circuit ruling, however, found the federal statute “provides an administrative enforcement mechanism for the Secretary of Agriculture that supplements the authority of the United States Attorneys to pursue criminal prosecutions in district courts.”

In this case, the appellate court found the U.S. Attorney for Northern Iowa “properly proceeded in district court.”

Before their  convictions were upheld, William B. Aossey, 75, served two years in federal prison, and his 42-year old son, Jalel Aossey, completed his sentence of one year and one day.

Midamar Corp., which as a corporate entity, plead guilty to a single conspiracy court, has survived the criminal prosecution of the business and its officers. William B. Aossey, founder of both Midamar and the Islamic Services of America, was removed as a company officer by USDA.

The 2015 prosecutions all stemmed from the shipments of misbranded beef products to Malaysia and Indonesia during a period of about two and a half years. Midamar is a halal food distribution company based in Cedar Rapids, IA.

According to the company,  Jalel and Yahya Aossey are the current owners and managing directors of Midamar.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

© Food Safety News