Federal prison is likely in the future for another food industry executive.
Memet Beqiri, the owner of Connecticutt’s New England Meat Packing LLC in Staford Springs, will be sentenced on November 12, 2019, after pleading guilty to submitting fraudulent E. coli test results required to meet USDA’s HACCP sampling requirements.
The defendant is also known as Matt Beqiri, 32, of Tolland.
U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson accepted a Magistrate Judge’s finding that Beqiri knowingly and voluntarily entered into a plea of guilty that should be acceptable to the Court.
Magistrate Judge Robert A. Richardson found Mr. Beqiri competent to enter the plea; that he understands the charges against him, and his right to counsel. By pleading guilty, Beqiri gives up his right to trial and to appeal. He also understands the Court is “obligated to consider” advisory sentencing guidelines.
At sentencing, the maximum a federal judge could impose is five years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.
Court documents lay out the facts of the case. Beqiri was the owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing LLC at all relevant times to the federal felony. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspected the facility for slaughter, processing, selling, and transporting of meat and meat products, including beef, veal, goat, and lamb.
FSIS required New England to perform one generic E. coli carcass swab for every 300 animals slaughtered for periodic collection of ground beef samples for E. coli testing. A certified laboratory is supposed to collect the samples and test the swabs.
The FSIS Office of Field Operations is the end recipient of the testing.
Beqiri pleaded guilty to one count of making and using a false document. He admits that from on or about November 3, 2016, to September 9, 2017, he “knowingly and willfully.” made falsified documents in place of test results. This included presenting 36 falsified laboratory reports concerning 52 swabs that purporting taken from carcasses.
Court documents say Beqiri sent no carcass swabs and no ground beef samples to the identified laboratory for E.coli testing.
Beqiri is free on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond. His cannot travel outside of New York, New Jersey, and the New England states, and he was ordered to surrender his firearm and passport.
The Court ordered the completion of a pre-sentencing report by October 1. The defendant’s sentencing recommendations are due Oc.t 29, and the government’s suggestions are due bu November 5.
FSIS’s Office of Investigations, Enforcement, and Audit (OIEA) led the investigation. “FSIS investigators are on the job protecting public health every day,” said Carmen Rottenberg, FSIS Administrator. “Our work is critical to protect American families and the food supply, and we will not tolerate blatant disregard for food safety laws.”
New England Meat Packing may face potential civil, administrative consequences not addressed by the Beqiri plea agreement.
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