Texas Meat Packing Plant Executives Plead Guilty to Selling $1 Million in Tainted Ground Beef to Federal Prison System


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Two executives at a now-shuttered Texas meat processing plant pleaded guilty on Tuesday, September 24, for conspiring to sell $1 million worth of "adulterated" meat to the federal prison system.

According to the Department of Justice, Jeffrey Neal Smith, president of Amarillo-based West Texas Provisions Inc., and Operations Manager Derrick Martinez admitted to selling more than 775,000 pounds of tainted or misbranded meat to 32 prisons in 18 states.

The company sold products that were falsely labeled as being inspected by the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, processing ground beef with whole cow hearts and labeling it as ground beef, which is a violation of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

According to court records, the men admitted to keeping the whole hearts offsite until inspectors left the facility. The executives also hid uninspected meat in the freezer and often forced employees to process the hearts in the dark on nights and weekends, when inspectors weren’t working.

Both men face up to five years in prison, though a sentencing date has not yet been set.

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