Animal & Veterinary
Guilty Verdict In Veal Feed Case
August 29, 1996
On June 10, 1996, a Federal jury in Milwaukee, Wisconsin returned guilty verdicts on all twelve counts against the Vitek Corporation and the president of the firm, Jannes (John) Doppenberg. Vitek Supply Corporation, located in Oak Grove, Wisconsin, imports, manufactures and distributes animal drugs, feed, feed supplements, and feed premixes for food-producing animals, primarily veal calves. Vitek and Mr. Doppenberg had been charged with conspiracy and smuggling unapproved drugs into the U.S., and adding these drugs to feed mixtures sold to veal producers. The guilty verdicts came on five counts of smuggling, four counts of shipping misbranded drugs, two counts of shipping adulterated drugs, and one count of conspiracy.
Sherry Steffen, who was employed as Vitek's office manager, had been indicted on these same charges. Ms. Steffen plead guilty to conspiracy to smuggle and distribute misbranded and adulterated animal drugs. On August 6, 1996, Ms. Stefan was sentenced to 2 years probation, 150 hours of community service, restitution to the U.S. Customs Service in the amount of $29,452.65, and a $25.00 special assessment to the court.
Evidence presented at the trial established that unapproved drugs were added by Vitek to its feed premix products and shipped to feed companies and growers. Evidence was also presented showing that between 1988 and April 1994, Vitek sold over 1.7 million pounds of products containing unapproved drugs, valued at almost $1.3 million dollars. The unapproved drugs included: clenbuterol, avoparcin, furaltadone, furazolidone, and nitrofurazone.
This conviction was the result of a cooperative investigation conducted by investigators from U.S. Customs, the FDA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas P. Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, made the following statement in conjunction with the guilty verdict:
"While there have been other convictions for using clenbuterol in show animals, this is the first conviction nationally where clenbuterol was introduced wholesale into animals being raised solely as part of our nation's food supply. The evidence established an international conspiracy to smuggle clenbuterol and other drugs into this country from the Netherlands. The evidence established that veal feed suppliers and veal producers throughout the country paid Vitek extra for veal premix containing these illegal and harmful animal drugs. The U.S. Attorneys Office, U.S. Customs, FDA, and USDA are continuing this investigation and I expect additional charges soon."