Halal Food Co. Founder, Son Lose Appeal Over False Exports
By Michael Macagnone, Law360
April 17, 2017
Washington -- The founder of a halal food company and his son lost their attempt to overturn convictions tied to mislabeled halal exports Friday, as an Eighth Circuit panel tossed arguments that Congress had meant only for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pursue mislabeled food violations.
The decision upheld the sentences for Midamar Corp. founder William Aossey Jr. and his son over a years-long scheme to sell beef labeled as halal abroad without proper certification. William Aossey was convicted following a jury trial last year and the son, Jalel Aossey, submitted guilty pleas conditional on their appeals. The court noted that the particular challenge to convictions under the Meat Inspection Act were novel, but the district court rightly decided them.
In the appeal, the family had tried to argue that provisions of the Meat Inspection Act meant that only the Department of Agriculture could pursue violations of the statute and that prosecutors could only become involved in contempt proceedings. However, the Eighth Circuit wrote that those provisions “do not constitute a ‘clear and unambiguous expression’ of the legislative will to deprive the district courts of jurisdiction over criminal prosecutions for violations of the Meat Inspection Act and related violations.”
Before the guilty plea and jury trial, Aossey and his son attempted to have the charges dismissed by arguing that only the secretary of agriculture had authority to pursue violations under the act, but were rebuffed by the trial court.
In its decision upholding the trial court’s original reasoning, the court wrote...