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Plea bargain agreement brings sentence for missed tests

USDA’s quarterly enforcement report for the period ending Sept. 30 first reported Memet   Beqiri’s guilty plea. He has since been sentenced, on Nov. 24, concluding a plea agreement reached a year ago.
The Stafford Springs, CT, meat supplier was sentenced to probation and fined after he pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for Connecticut to fabricating E. coli test results.  
  Beqiri, also known as Matt Beqiri, 32, of Tolland, was sentenced to two years of probation for fabricating E. coli test results at his meat processing business. He was also ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.
Beqiri pleaded guilty to one count of making and using a false document and aiding and abetting, a charge that carries a maximum possible term of imprisonment of five years.
Court documents said:
“From on or about November 3, 2016, to on or about September 9, 2017, in the District of Connecticut, the defendant MEMET BEQIRI knowingly and willfully made and used false writings and documents, and willfully caused the making and use of false writings and documents, knowing them to contain materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and entries in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the Government of the United States; namely, 36 laboratory sample reports relating to 52 carcass swabs and ground beef samples, each bearing a purported certified testing laboratory’s letterhead and laboratory director’s signature, and each report made available for inspection by the USDA and FSIS-OFO, which reports falsely stated that carcass swabs and ground beef samples from New England Meat Packing, LLC, had been delivered to the identified laboratory for E.Coli testing and tested as negative, when in truth and fact, no carcass swabs and ground beef samples had been delivered to the identified laboratory for E.Coli testing or had been tested for E.Coli by the identified laboratory.”
A 2019 plea agreement said “the defendant agrees to wavier his right to be indicted and to plead guilty to a one-count Information charging him with Making and Using a False Document, in violation of 18 U.S.C. $ 1001(aX3) and Aiding and Abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. g 2.”
Beqiri admitted to an investigator with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service that the documents were fraudulent, and that his business did not collect and submit the samples to the certified laboratory because he did not correlate the potential impact on food safety with his sampling program and wanted to create the appearance he was compliant with all USDA HACCP testing requirements.
There have been no known instances of illnesses reported by anyone who consumed the meat in any of the states where the meat was distributed, according to officials.
“After this defendant’s fraudulent conduct was uncovered, he admitted to an investigator that he ignored the USDA’s meat testing requirements because he considered the process to be an inconvenience and a nuisance,” said U.S. Attorney Durham.  “Such reckless conduct seriously endangers public safety and will be prosecuted.”
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News,  click here )

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