More Fallout From Massive Beef Recall at Petaluma Slaughterhouse

By Mario Sevilla

Wed Aug 20th, 2014 7:01pm America/Los_Angeles

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PETALUMA (KRON) — The fallout continues from the massive beef recall centered around a Petaluma slaughterhouse despite the fact that criminal indictments have already come down.

Rancher Bill Niman says he was at Rancho Feeding Corporation when his cattle were custom slaughtered during the time period of the recall. As a result, Niman says he destroyed more than $400,000 worth of meat which he contends was perfectly good.

“That’s an immoral act for me in that killing animals to feed people and then to throw that meat away is unacceptable,” Niman said.

He says the federal indictments, which were unsealed Monday, backs his claims.

“What’s most troubling to me is that because of a USDA failure at that plant either to catch the situation, or to prevent it from happening, or doing their job, they felt it was okay to throw an entire ranching community under the bus,” Niman said.

A newly unsealed indictment reveals that co-owner Jesse Amaral Jr, foreperson Felix Sandoval Cabrera, and yardperson Eugene D. Corda are accused of taking cattle purchased at auction that had been condemned by USDA inspectors and selling it to consumers.

The indictment alleges Amaral then ordered Cabrera to process the diseased cattle by cutting the “condemned” stamp off the carcasses and selling it.

The defendants are accused of swapping out the heads of healthy cattle for the diseased ones that suffered from a disease known as “cancer eye” while the USDA inspectors were on lunch breaks.

Niman says he knows firsthand his cattle were thoroughly inspected.

“Our product was safe and certainly the indictment sustains that kind of thinking but they still felt it was okay to go ahead to force us to dispose of the meat,” Niman said.

The former co-owner, foreperson, and chief yardperson at the Rancho Feeding Corporation are all facing federal charges for allegedly processing and selling condemned meat.

The indictment also includes mail fraud charges after prosecutors say Rancho told ranchers the cattle they sold had died and charged them a fee even though the slaughterhouse made money off selling the diseased animals.

All three defendants appeared in federal court Monday for a first reading of charges. None of them entered a plea.

The facility closed for months but has since been taken over by the Marin Sun Farms which is not named in this indictment.

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