The Justice Department, along with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, announced the guilty plea by Richard Stowell, of St. Pete Beach, Florida, and United Seafood Imports, Inc., a firm located in St. Petersburg, Florida, to a twenty-four count Information, charging them with conspiring to commit violations of the Lacey Act and Food Drug and Cosmetics Act.
According to Court documents and statements made at the hearing, Stowell, who was the majority shareholder in United, in concert with Shifco, Inc. (Shifco), conspired to violate the Lacey Act and the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act by mislabeling and selling approximately one million pounds of shrimp. To execute the scheme, less marketable shrimp from Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia was misbranded and marketed as shrimp coming from Panama, Ecuador, and Honduras. According to documents in the Court file, the mislabeled shrimp, valued at between $400,000 and $1,000,000, was ultimately sold to supermarkets in the northeastern United States.
Sentencing for both Stowell and United is scheduled for July 15, 2011 before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro. Shifco previously pled guilty on January 11, 2011, to related Lacey Act violations, and was sentenced on March 25, 2011.