Owner of Newport News seafood business charged in crab meat scheme

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The owner of a Newport News seafood business was charged Friday with conspiring to blend foreign crab meat with Atlantic blue crab meat, according to the Department of Justice.

74-year-old James R. Casey of Poquoson is the owner and president of Casey’s Seafood, Inc. Court documents say that from July 2012 through June 2015, he knowingly conspired to replace Atlantic blue crab meat with crab meat from Indonesia, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Central and South America. These alleged crimes are violations of the Lacey Act.

The documents said Casey and his co-conspirators falsely labeled at least 397,917 pounds of crab meat as Atlantic blue crab and a “Product of the United States.” The crab meat had a retail value worth millions of dollars.

Casey was also said to have directed employees to remove foreign crab meat from the original shipper’s packaging containers, blend and combine foreign crab meat from one processor with crab meat from another processor and place it into different packing containers with a label saying that the contents were an American product, despite knowing that the contents were imported.

The documents say Casey also told employees to cover up labels stating stating “Product of Brazil” or “Product of China” and replace them with “Product of the USA” labels.

Casey has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted.