Violation of the Federal Inspection Act Lands Rancho Feeding Owner in Prison
Rancho Feeding owner Jesse "Babe" Amaral Jr. was sentenced to one year in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release for his company's practice of distributing meat from condemned or uninspected cattle. Amaral had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the federal inspection act.
In early 2014, federal authorities raided the company's Petaluma, CA plant, resulting in a recall of 8.7 million pounds of meat, about a year's worth of production. Testimony revealed that Rancho used meat from 101 condemned cattle and 79 uninspected cows that had previously shown signs eye cancer.
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer characterized Amaral's actions as, "one of the most cynical, calculated circumventions" of the federal inspection system that he'd ever seen. The conspiracy included secretly switching the heads of questionable cattle with those from healthy animals, fooling federal agents.
Amaral was spared a harsher sentence due to his poor health. He has suffered three heart attacks and undergone a triple bypass surgery. However, Breyer said it would send the wrong message if Amaral wasn't required to serve time in prison.
Co-conspirators Robert Singleton, Felix Cabrera, and Eugene Corda have reached plea deals with prosecutors and are awaiting sentencing.