UPDATE: Mucci Farms, top execs face criminal charges for COOL - The Packer

UPDATE: Mucci Farms, top execs face criminal charges for COOL

07/29/2014 10:42:00 AM
Coral Beach

(UPDATED COVERAGE July 31) Two top officials at an Ontario greenhouse face criminal fraud charges for allegedly selling fresh vegetables from Mexico to Canadian retailers and representing them as Canadian produce.

Danny Mucci, general manager of Mucci Pac Ltd., Kingsville, Ontario, and Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing for Mucci Marketing International Inc., each face eight charges, according to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Mucci International Marketing Inc. and Mucci Pac Ltd. are charged as corporate entities.

Charges against the executives and the companies include defrauding the public and retailers of money, packaging and selling produce with incorrect country of origin labels, selling pre-packaged food with false country of origin labels and unlawfully marketing an imported agricultural product with inaccurate country of origin labeling.

The retailers named as victims are Costco Wholesale, Loblaw Cos. and Sobeys Inc.

Joe Spano (left) and Danny Mucci.Neither of the men was available for comment. Emily Murracas, marketing coordinator, said the company’s attorney had recommended no one comment while the cases are pending.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency filed the charges the week of July 21. Spano and Mucci made an initial court appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor and were released pending a Sept. 15 appearance. No bail was ordered, according to a court clerk.

A spokeswoman at the CFIA said it is agency policy to not comment on pending investigations or litigation.

The CFIA has hired a private practice attorney, Damien Frost, to prosecute the case, according to the Windsor Star newspaper. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mucci Pac Ltd. and its sister company Mucci Marketing International are a family-owned growing operation, founded in 1963, with more than 400 acres of greenhouse under their control, according to the company website.



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Jeff    
SW  |  July, 29, 2014 at 12:38 PM

This type of deceit directly hurts our industry, not just greenhouse but all of produce. Worst of all, imagine the customer's and consumer's lost trust after finding out they probably were charged a higher price for produce that actually didn't come from the country that they were told it would.

Joe    
ohio  |  July, 30, 2014 at 10:32 AM

agreed.

Frank    
Texas  |  July, 29, 2014 at 03:50 PM

Integrity matters.

Jose Mirafina    
Vancouver  |  July, 29, 2014 at 04:53 PM

If there's a plus side, it appears the quality of Mexican GH produce has come up quite a bit. Just sayin.

Jewel    
Canada  |  July, 29, 2014 at 08:50 PM

Absolutely ridiculous!!! If your source is Windsor Star don't bother reporting these false accusations! The Mucci family are honest and highly respected To anyone who knows them and would never fraud anyone! Once the fog clears the truth will appear.

CDN_CF    
July, 30, 2014 at 07:01 AM

The "Source" is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Windsor Star is just reporting the 34 criminal charges listed in the complaint. The government doesn't prosecute based on hearsay.

Coral Beach    
The Packer newsroom  |  July, 30, 2014 at 10:31 AM

To Jewel and CDN_CF: Before posting the above story I confirmed with the CFIA and Mucci Farms that the case has been filed. The Packer does not report hearsay. Case documents are not yet available, according to a clerk in the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor. We are following the story closely and will post updates as information becomes available.

Joe    
ohio  |  July, 30, 2014 at 10:33 AM

if you don't have integrity you can't be trusted.

Steve    
Michigan  |  July, 30, 2014 at 01:02 PM

LMFAO what planet are you from?

Jeff    
Toronto , Ontario  |  July, 30, 2014 at 02:53 PM

Now I know why their produce was garbage

    
July, 30, 2014 at 07:15 PM

What happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty. Hopefully we can trust the judicial system to come up with the truth.

    
London  |  July, 30, 2014 at 07:22 PM

WOW !!! I am sure the competition is loving all this bad publicity. Slamming their product that is not speaking for me. I buy their product in our Costco and have found it to be a superior produce. I will continue buying their product

    
July, 30, 2014 at 07:40 PM

I don't know why this hits the newspaper. It is all accusations. It really needed to be researched and investigated quietly. One of these men has young children and they should not suffer from the publicity. Lets think about the companies who carry the Mucci label they now are faced with the bad press. Hopefully they will remember the law is innocent until proved guilty. I am sure the competition ( VULTURES ) are enjoying all this bad publicity and are already banging on the doors lined up to put their products on the shelf.

Competition (VULTURES)    
July, 31, 2014 at 07:50 AM

Yup! they would do the same

    
July, 31, 2014 at 08:58 AM

The companies that carry their products are part of the lawsuit. They defrauded their customers, not to mention their local growers and us the consumers.

anonymous    
July, 31, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Innocent until proven guilty is a definite fact. The other facts are that investigators were working at Mucci and had access to company emails and inventory systems that had to give them enough evidence, over 15 months by the way, for these charges to be filed. If it was really bill of lading mistakes like they are trying to say it was, those are penalties/fines at most and are handled much differently. Imagine how it's going to affect their growers. The money is going to have to come from somewhere, so the growers are the ones that are going to have to foot the lawyer bills (aka lower returns) for them to fight this to the end, where is their protection? What about the employees? How do you stand behind something you didn't even know was happening? I'm all for blindly supporting the people you trust, but when you look at the details with a clear head, do you really think that this didn't happen? If you're still unsure, you could always ask the previous friends of Lance Armstrong how they feel.

    
Chatham  |  July, 31, 2014 at 10:25 AM

This is a situation that is unfortunate for many. The farm, the employees, the families that are under investigation. The companies who shelf their products must feel the impact as well. The town of Leamington has had it's challenges and this is another one for them for sure. I hope they are innocent and bounce back from all the negativity . I have to wonder if the charges are correct who are the whistle blowers, will we ever know ?

    
July, 31, 2014 at 10:45 AM

If this is true I think it would be interesting to know who the whistle blower was.

    
July, 31, 2014 at 11:07 AM

All of Lance's friends know he has one testicle, what are you talking about?

Nick    
Windsor  |  July, 31, 2014 at 12:26 PM

100% agree

    
July, 31, 2014 at 02:12 PM

They don't have growers for the most part with regard to Mexico. Buy/Sell

Truck Broker    
South Carolina  |  July, 31, 2014 at 02:28 PM

With all of the tracking programs in place today for food safety, this is a bad thing. That being said, as a Truck Broker for 26 years in the produce industry, this was once a common occurrence. In the not so distant past, many loads of Mexican veg have been loaded in Nogales, AZ transported to Florida, run down a line and packaged and shipped as Fresh Florida produce. It was common in November to send Cukes from S.FL that came from Mexico. Today, origins must be declared on BOL's. One trucklot shipped may be considered an oversight, perhaps. $1M worth is by definition Fraud. Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug.

    
August, 01, 2014 at 01:10 PM

Love how half the commenters aren't willing to leave a name or location.

    
Tecumseh  |  August, 01, 2014 at 07:18 PM

I understand not leaving your email here as I don't want to hear your hate mail if I side against your opinions. People need to remember these are just allegations. It is slander and hurting really good people not to mention their business's reputation. Your acting premature in sending your negative prejudgements.

    
Tecumseh  |  August, 02, 2014 at 04:04 PM

When the farm and these men are cleared of these allegations who pays their lawyers fees and any losses they might have occurred ? Yup ! The laws need to change.

J. Oliver    
Nogales Az.  |  August, 05, 2014 at 09:54 AM

It takes two for these plans-----most all in Nogales have integrity----unfortunately some do not

Dante D. Washington    
Compton Ca.  |  August, 05, 2014 at 05:54 PM

You are 100% correct John

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