Two Texas beef executives, who decided to enter guilty pleas instead of going to trial earlier this month, will be sentenced early next year. They’ve admitted to selling $1 million in adulterated ground beef in 2016 to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Jeffery Neal Smith, 49, and Derrick Martinez, 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. At the time of the federal felony, Smith was president and Martinez was operations for West Texas Provisions Inc.
Smith and Martinez are free on bonds with some travel restrictions until 10 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2020. That’s when they must appear for sentencing at the federal courthouse in Amarillo by federal Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk.
The defendants admitted to selling more than 775,000 pounds of uninspected, misbranded or adulterated meat to 32 federal prisons in 32 states, for which BOP paid $1,011,106.72.
West Texas Provisions marketed the products as USDA inspected, thereby violating the Federal Meat Inspection Act. USDA did not inspect the beef.
Instead, Smith and Martinez processed the beef for prisons on nights and weekends, long after USDA inspectors went home. And they were not concerned about food safety protocols, turning whole hearts into hamburger. They worked in the dark and found places in the building to hide uninspected beef when inspectors were on duty.
USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) led the investigation into the prison beef.
Court documents signed by the defendants for their attorneys acknowledge that by pleading guilty, they give uprights:
- to plead not guilty;
- to have a trial by jury;
- to have the defendant’s guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt;
- to confront and cross-examine witnesses and to call witnesses in the defendant’s defense, and
against compelled self-incrimination.
The guilty plea also recognizes the Court may order imprisonment for up to five years and impose a fine not to exceed $250,000 for each defendant. The Judge imposing sentence is required to give the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines “consideration.”
In the plea agreement, the government agrees not to bring any other charges in the case.
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