Local seafood firm owner pleads guilty to falsely labeling crab

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A Department of Justice logo is shown on a podium during a news conference about Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, in Philadelphia. Federal prosecutors say drug maker will plead guilty to charges it marketed an epilepsy medicine for unapproved uses and pay more than $400 million in civil and criminal penalties. (AP Photo/Matt […]

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — The owner of a Virginia seafood company has pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsely label foreign crabmeat as fresh Chesapeake blue crab.

Seventy-four-year-old James Casey of Poquoson, who owns Casey’s Seafood in Newport News, entered the plea Wednesday in federal court. He faces up to five years in prison at sentencing Jan. 9.

Prosecutors say the company mixed discount “distressed” crabmeat from Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere with Chesapeake blue crab, labeling it a “Product of the USA.” Some of the crabmeat sold as Chesapeake blue crab contained only foreign meat.

Court documents state Casey’s Seafood sold about 360,000 pounds of falsely labeled crabmeat from 2012 to 2015, worth $4.3 million at wholesale prices in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.

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