(UPDATED COVERAGE July 31) Two top officials at an Ontario greenhouse face criminal fraud charges for allegedly selling fresh vegetables from Mexico to Canadian retailers and representing them as Canadian produce.
Danny Mucci, general manager of Mucci Pac Ltd., Kingsville, Ontario, and Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing for Mucci Marketing International Inc., each face eight charges, according to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.
Mucci International Marketing Inc. and Mucci Pac Ltd. are charged as corporate entities.
Charges against the executives and the companies include defrauding the public and retailers of money, packaging and selling produce with incorrect country of origin labels, selling pre-packaged food with false country of origin labels and unlawfully marketing an imported agricultural product with inaccurate country of origin labeling.
The retailers named as victims are Costco Wholesale, Loblaw Cos. and Sobeys Inc.
Neither of the men was available for comment. Emily Murracas, marketing coordinator, said the company’s attorney had recommended no one comment while the cases are pending.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency filed the charges the week of July 21. Spano and Mucci made an initial court appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor and were released pending a Sept. 15 appearance. No bail was ordered, according to a court clerk.
A spokeswoman at the CFIA said it is agency policy to not comment on pending investigations or litigation.
The CFIA has hired a private practice attorney, Damien Frost, to prosecute the case, according to the Windsor Star newspaper. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mucci Pac Ltd. and its sister company Mucci Marketing International are a family-owned growing operation, founded in 1963, with more than 400 acres of greenhouse under their control, according to the company website.