A New Jersey cheese maker is charged with shipping “tainted product” purchased from a Pennsylvania trucker also charged with violating federal safety rules.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadephia on Monday charged Lebanon Cheese Co. and President Joseph G. Lotito with the interstate shipping of tainted ricotta cheese.
If convicted on the shipping charge, Lebanon, N.J.-based Lebanon Cheese could face five years probation, a fine of $200,000 and a special assessment of $125.
Lotito could be sentenced to a year in prison, a year of supervised release, a $100,000 fine, and a special assessment of $25.
The cheese was made from condemned milk that should have been destroyed but instead was sold by D.A. Landis Trucking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The Lancaster, Pa., trucking firm allegedly sold truckloads of raw milk tainted with antibiotics to Lebanon Cheese in or about January 2008 through July 2009.
The condemned milk was supposed to be dumped. Instead, the complaint claims, carrier owner Dean A. Landis sold the milk to Lebanon for $4 per hundred pounds.
The market price for raw milk at the time ranged from approximately $12 to $23 per hundred pounds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, depending on its end use.
Landis and his trucking firm, which hauls milk from about 700 dairy farms in Pennsylvania, already are charged with a scheme to violate driver work rules.
The same U.S. attorney in February charged the carrier with keeping dual sets of truck driver log books to mask federal hours of service violations.