NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The owner of a Virginia seafood business is facing federal charges after investigators say he knowingly blended foreign crab meat with Atlantic blue crab meat, then labeled it as “Product of USA.”
James R. Casey, 74, is the owner and President of Casey’s Seafood, Inc. in Newport News. He was charged Friday with conspiring to commit Lacey Act violations and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
The scheme took place from at least July 2012 through June 2015, according to court documents.
Those documents show that Casey and his co-conspirators falsely labeled at least 397,917 pounds of crab meat, with a retail value in the millions of dollars.
The Poquoson man is accused of knowingly replacing Atlantic blue crab with crab meat from Indonesia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Central and South America.
Prosecutors say Casey directed employees to remove foreign crabmeat from the original packaging, blend and combine it, then package it in a container labeled “Product of USA.”
Court documents say that Casey also told employees to cover up labels that said, “Product of China” or “Product of Brazil” with “Product of the USA.”
If convicted, James Casey faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.