Westbury, NY - July 29, 2015 - Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that a Westbury fish wholesaler that serviced popular Long Island restaurants – and the company’s owner – will be fined $100,000 for trafficking shellfish without necessary permits.
“Consumer safety is paramount in Nassau County and it’s our job to make sure that everyone – including food wholesalers – is following the law,” said Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas. “When a consumer goes to a restaurant they should not have to worry if the fish they are eating is unsafe. I thank the DEC for their hard work on this case and look forward to partnering with the department again to ensure food safety for Long Islanders.”
“Compliance with the law with regard to the sanitary requirements of our shellfish industry is imperative to protect public health and also to maintain consumer confidence in our important shellfish industry,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman. “This investigation by the Nassau County DA’s Office, was initiated by DEC’s Shellfish Inspection Unit and the Division of Law Enforcement, and reflects DEC’s commitment to assure compliance with the law and to deter unlawful trafficking of unregulated shellfish. The successful conclusion of this investigation would not have been possible without the assistance of the Nassau DA’s office.”
Richard Scores, Jr., 57, of Commack, was arrested on February 19 by DA investigators and DEC police officers. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and DEC Police discovered that from January 2014 to February 2015, both Westbury Fish Co. and Scores had been engaged in the sale and transportation of both food fish and shellfish without the necessary license and permits.
Acting DA Singas said that Scores, as owner and CEO of Westbury Fish Co., sold and transported shellfish and food fish without proper permits or licensure to restaurants located in Garden City, Carle Place, Port Washington, New Hyde Park, and Westbury, as well as in Commack in Suffolk County.
Scores and Westbury Fish Co., - through the company’s attorney - pleaded guilty to one count each of Failure to Possess Shellfish Shipper’s and Processor’s Permit/Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Shellfish Crustacea and Wildlife as a misdemeanor and to one count each of Trafficking in Marine Food Fish and Crustacea for resale to other than the final consumer without a valid Food Fish and Crustacea Dealer and Shipper License/Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Shellfish Crustacea and Wildlife as a misdemeanor.
Under the Order on Consent, the defendant is required to pay a civil penalty of $100,000 over the course of approximately two and a half years.
Scores and Westbury Fish Company must also immediately cease all sales, trading, dealing, processing, transporting and/or shipping of shellfish and cannot conduct any business involving shellfish under another name, company name, corporate name or permit of another.
They are barred from seeking any permits as a shellfish shipper or processor until the 2018 permit year and after the entire $100,000 civil penalty has been paid.
Scores and Westbury Fish Company must also retain an engineer or engineering company to conduct monthly inspections of the defendant’s business and facility to ensure compliance with the law.
DEC regulations require that shellfish shippers must satisfy very specific criteria regarding the handling, processing, transportation and shipping of shellfish, as well as recordkeeping associated with such transactions, before shippers can be issued permits and be allowed to operate. Because of the unique nature of shellfish and seafood along with its elevated risk of food-borne illnesses and spoilage, these businesses require extra care on the part of its workers and managers and receive great scrutiny from state regulators. New York law requires that permit holders submit to DEC inspections and must not exhibit health and operational deficiencies in their business.
In the case of Westbury Fish Co., after inspections by the DEC had shown that the company’s facility did not meet the state requirements for issuance of a Shellfish Shipper-Class “A” Permit, the company’s application for a 2014 permit had been denied.
The DEC determined that Westbury Fish Co. had sold more than $100,000 in shellfish and food fish to Long Island buyers for months without permits or licensure, and they further determined that the company continued to sell shellfish even after having been expressly denied a shellfish permit.
Unit Chief Brian Heid of Acting DA Singas’ Environmental Crimes Unit and Deputy Bureau Chief Andrew Weiss are prosecuting the case. Scores is represented by Edward McCabe, Esq.