Seafood Scandal: NC man admits to selling foreign crab as ‘Product of USA’

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The case isn’t about just a few crabs. A release from the Department of Justice said the mislabeling concerned at least $250,000 in seafood.

ORIENTAL, N.C. — A North Carolina man pleaded guilty in court to labeling foreign crabmeat as a “Product of USA.”

In his guilty plea, Jeffrey A. Styron said they used the crabmeat to supplement a deficit in local fare – but the case isn’t about just a few crabs. A release from the Department of Justice said the mislabeling concerned at least $250,000 in seafood.

The DOJ said most of the crabmeat was shipped in from South America and Asia, and was sold to small seafood retailers and restaurants.

Styron was the treasurer for Garland F. Fulcher Seafood in Oriental, North Carolina. They “purchase, process, package, transport and sell” seafood, and he was in charge of the company’s blue crab operations.

He plead guilty to one charge related to misinformation, and has not been charged yet.

US Attorney Robert Higdon, Jr., who works in the eastern district of North Carolina, said consumer fraud like this case “undermines efforts of hardworking, honest fishermen and the free market.”

“In this case, the fraudulent scheme artificially deflated the cost of domestic blue crab and gave Styron and Garland Fulcher Seafood an unacceptable and unfair economic advantage over law-abiding competitors,” Higdon wrote. 

The investigation and prosecution was coordinated by multiple law enforcement agencies, including NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Justice, and the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s environmental crimes section.


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