NEW YORK — Two executives with West Texas Provisions pleaded guilty to producing and selling $1 million in adulterated meat to federal prisons, accoring to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
West Texas Provisions President Jeffrey Neal Smith and operations manager Derrick Martinez were accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The defendants admitted to selling more than 775,000 lbs of misbranded, uninspected or adulterated meat to 32 prison institutions in 18 states. Federal officials paid $1,011,166.72 for the product, according to court documents.
The company processed cow hearts, which is not permitted in ground beef products, and labeled it as “ground beef” for the prisons.
“They kept the whole hearts offsite until inspectors left the premises, then processed the hearts on nights and weekends, when inspectors weren’t working,” The U.S. Attorney’s office said. “They often kept the lights off inside the facility while processing uninspected meat, hid uninspected meat in the freezer while inspectors were in the building, and distracted inspectors from looking at the product, they admitted.”
Mr. Smith and Mr. Martinez also admitted that they marketed West Texas Provisions products as U.S.D.A. inspected, which was not true and violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act.
The maximum sentence for the crime is five years in prison for each defendant. No sentencing date has been set.