USDA Penalizes 12 Companies in 8 States for PACA Violations

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on 12 produce businesses in eight states for failing to meet their contractual obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards issued under the PACA.

These sanctions include suspending the businesses’ PACA licenses and barring the principal operators of the businesses from engaging in PACA-licensed business or other activities without approval from USDA. By issuing these penalties, USDA continues to enforce the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers and buyers in the marketplace.

Comercio Competitivo - Vision 2020 Retail Big Show

The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:

  1. Lurie Brothers LLC, operating out of Chicago, Ill., for failing to pay a $26,163 award in favor of an Arkansas seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Salvatore Cimino, Alex Dernis and John Dernis were listed as members of the business. Another principal of the business at the time of the order was Frank Cione. He has challenged his responsibly connected status.

  2. Central America Specialties Inc., operating out of Beltsville, Md., for failing to pay a $2,575 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the USDA reparation order, Benecio Reyes was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  3. A & A Vegetables Inc., operating out of Hicksville, N.Y., for failing to pay a $70,200 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Amandeep Singh was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  4. Hunter Bros. Inc., operating out of Philadelphia Pa., for failing to pay a $2,682 award in favor of a New Jersey seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Frank J. Wiechec III was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  5. Lorex Produce LLC, operating out of Rio Rico, Ariz., for failing to pay a $48,826 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Francisco Alejandro López Rodríguez and Enok Aristiga Ayala were listed as members of the business.

  6. Arizona Lemons LLC, operating out of Phoenix Ariz., for failing to pay a $16,776 award in favor of a Minnesota seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Martha E. Bombela and José R. Partida were listed as members of the business.

  7. Perfect Harvest Inc., operating out of Nogales, Ariz., for failing to pay a $243,240 award in favor of an Arizona seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jorge A. Mercado was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  8. Super HK HG LLC, doing business as Hong Kong Supermarket, operating out of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., for failing to pay a $4,774 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Myint J. Kyaw was listed as a member of the business.

  9. Basic Meats Supermarket Inc., doing business as Bravo Dixie Supermarket, operating out of Miami, Fla., for failing to pay a $17,723 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the USDA reparation order, Robert E. Gómez was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  10. Farmway Inc., operating out of Hudson, Fla., for failing to pay a $27,558 award in favor of a Utah seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, William Moore was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  11. Organic Harvest LLC, operating out of Miami, Fla., for failing to pay a $12,089 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the USDA reparation order, Patricia Dávila was listed as a member of the business. Another principal of the business at the time of the order was Thomas B. D’Agostino. He has challenged his responsibly connected status.

  12. Mibo Fresh Foods LLC, operating out of Fort Worth, Texas, for failing to pay a $220,153 award in favor of a Washington seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Uzor U. Nwoko was listed as a member of the business.

Related Article: PACA Regulations Defends Traders of Agricultural Products

PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in USDA’s issuance of a reparation order that requires damages to be paid by those not meeting their contractual obligations in buying and selling fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.

USDA is required to suspend the license or impose sanctions on an unlicensed business that fails to pay PACA reparations awarded against it as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business when the order is issued.

Those individuals, including sole proprietors, partners, members, managers, officers, directors or major stockholders, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee without USDA approval.

The PACA Division, which is in the Fair Trade Practices Program in the Agricultural Marketing Service, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA, including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.