(Oct. 11) NEW YORK — After its unsuccessful appeal of a USDA reparation order of $4,800, Hunts Point wholesaler Koam Produce Inc. is on the hook for an additional $78,350 plus interest and taxes.

Most of that money comes in the form of attorney’s fees, which were approved Oct. 3 by the same judge who turned away Koam’s appeal in July.

Paul Gentile, Koam’s attorney, called the award of attorney’s fees totaling more than 16 times the award itself “an outrage.” He said Koam will appeal the decision and post bond to cover the fees.

The Hunts Point firm also is appealing the original July decision of U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton, who ruled Koam must pay a reparation order issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act branch stemming from the Operation Forbidden Fruit bribery sting.

That decision by Stanton was considered an important, precedent-setting victory for the shipping community, who feared reparation orders would go unenforced simply because Hunts Point firms could file notices of appeal and shippers then would drop the matter because the cost of litigation outweighed the value of the orders.

Gentile said Koam’s appeals will be consolidated in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Koam is challenging the fees as excessive, and it is challenging the district court decision because, among other things, Koam believes the secretary of agriculture should have been disqualified from the reparation case because of a conflict of interest.

Attorney Lewis Janowsky, whose Newport Beach, Calif.-based firm Rynn & Janowsky stands to get $67,465 based on Stanton’s decision, said attorneys for both Koam and tomato shipper DiMare Homestead Inc., which was awarded the reparations, met with Stanton at the outset of the initial appeal.

“Paul Gentile and I acknowledged that it was a rarity anyone would go to court over $4,800 in invoices,” Janowsky said. “But it had precedential value because of other pending cases. The judge understood why both parties were there.”

That’s why the attorney’s fees were so much more than the award itself — and justified, he said.

Oral arguments before a three-judge panel at the Circuit Court of Appeals have been set for Jan. 19.