The former owner and two managers of a Petaluma slaughterhouse intentionally distributed tainted meat from diseased animals, according to a federal grand jury indictment issued Monday.
Jesse “Babe” Amaral Jr., 76, the former owner of Rancho Feeding Corp. and two employees allegedly circumvented federal inspection procedures for cows afflicted with eye cancer and processed diseased meat, the indictment charges.
Between 2012 and 2014, workers on the kill floor were allegedly ordered to “slaughter and switch” the heads of diseased cows by swapping them with heads of slaughtered healthy animals and placing the healthy head beside the carcass of the diseased animal to fool inspectors.
In addition, the owner was accused of directing workers to carve “USDA Condemned” stamps out of the cattle carcasses and to process the carcasses for transport, sale and distribution.
As a result of the alleged conspiracy, the slaughterhouse distributed more than 100 condemned cattle, according to the government.
Amaral was also accused of defrauding farmers by charging “handling fees” based on false statements that their cattle had did or been condemned, when they were really sold for human consumption, according to the indictment.
In February 2014, the Rancho plant voluntarily recalled 8.7 million pounds of beef products as a result of the investigation.
The grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday but it was first made public Monday when Amaral and Eugene Corda, 65, made initial appearances in federal court.
The third man charged was Felix Cabrera, 55, of Santa Rosa.
Case: U.S. v. Amaral, No. CR14-0437CRB