LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – A former employee of Golden Crown Foods, Inc., which manufactures Chinese food products, was arraigned today on federal charges of contaminating the company’s food products by placing foreign items into dumplings during the manufacturing process.
Albert Vidal Torres, 33, of Ontario, pleaded not guilty to charges contained in a five-count indictment that was returned last month by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.
Torres was arrested last Wednesday morning, and that afternoon a United States Magistrate Judge ordered him held without bond. Torres is specifically charged with three counts of tampering with consumer products, one count of fraud and misuse of a resident alien card, and one count of false representation of a social security account number.
The indictment alleges that Torres placed foreign objects into wontons being made at Golden Crown Foods on three dates in late 2003. He is also accused of possessing a counterfeit resident alien card, which is commonly called a “Green Card,” as well as using a bogus social security number.
The food tampering was discovered by Golden Crown Foods after several consumers complained about foreign objects in dumplings they had purchased. No consumers were injured as a result of the tampering. The company initiated an immediate recall of the tampered product and destroyed all of the food, which had a value of nearly $23,000.
After the incident, the company hired an outside investigator, who gave polygraph examinations to employees. According to Golden Crown Foods, Torres failed the polygraph examination and subsequently told his employer that he had tampered with food products on several occasions because the company had fired his brother-in-law. As a result of the incident, Golden Crown Foods hired an outside consultant to recommend changes to its manufacturing practices to reduce the ability of employees to tamper with food products.
The tampering allegedly took place at Golden Crown Foods manufacturing facility in the City of Industry. The company has since relocated to Ontario.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Torres’ case this morning was assigned to United States District Judge George Pl. Schiavelli, who scheduled a trial for April 3. If he is convicted of the five counts in the indictment, Torres faces a statutory maximum penalty of 40 years in federal prison.
This case is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Joseph O. Johns