Animal & Veterinary
Dairy Operator Sentenced
April 11, 2000
On April 3, 2000, Arie C. Van Leeuwen, owner and operator of a dairy farm in Modesto, California, was sentenced to four years probation, including 12 months home detention. U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Coyle also ordered Van Leeuwen to pay a $100,000 fine. In addition, he was ordered to pay $100,000 civil penalty in a related State suit pending in the Stanislaus County Superior Court.
The Court also ordered Van Leeuwen to permanently refrain from any decision-making activities pertaining to the Van Leeuwen Dairy or any other dairy. He is also prohibited from participating or aiding in the following activities: custody, sale, consignment, or transport of any animals; the purchase or use of any drugs in animals; and keeping records pertaining to dairy operations.
In January 2000, Van Leeuwen pled guilty to a three-count Information charging him with introduction into interstate commerce of adulterated food with intent to defraud and mislead in violation of 21 U.S.C. sections 331(a) and 333(a)(2), a felony. He also pled guilty to two counts of criminal contempt, in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 401(3).
Van Leeuwen had been permanently enjoined under a consent decree entered by the Court in 1995, prohibiting him from selling or consigning cattle for slaughter until he established and implemented certain record-keeping and other systems to control the use and administration of drugs to his cattle. These systems are designed to ensure that cattle sold and consigned for slaughter do not contain illegal (above-tolerance) animal drug residues in their edible tissues, which can cause significant public health consequences. Consumers of the edible tissues of such animals may experience severe allergic reactions as a result of ingesting such food. Such food also poses the hazard of contributing to the creation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in humans who eat or handle the food. The Injunction also prohibited Van Leeuwen from introducing cattle into interstate commerce until FDA inspected the dairy's operations, and the Agency notified him in writing that it was satisfied that the operations complied with the requirements of the consent decree.
FDA inspected Van Leeuwen's dairy in 1996 and determined that he had not complied with the Injunction. As a result, the Court entered a Stipulation and Order in November 1996 holding Van Leeuwen liable for civil contempt for failing to comply with the terms of the Injunction. In June 1997, on a motion from the government, the Court assessed penalties against Van Leeuwen for his failure to eartag animals and for failure to keep records, in violation of the Injunction and Contempt Order.
In 1997 and 1998, FDA conducted additional inspections and found that Van Leeuwen still had failed to comply with the requirements of the Injunction. Accordingly, during this time period, FDA never authorized Van Leeuwen to resume the sale of cattle. The criminal charges to which Van Leeuwen pled guilty arose from an investigation into his illegal sales of cattle. During 1997 and 1998, Van Leeuwen sold cattle for slaughter at two California livestock auction yards, using fictitious names, in order to conceal his ownership of the animals and elude government authorities.
After follow-up inspections by FDA in June and August 1999, FDA found the dairy to be in compliance and, as of September 13, 1999, the dairy was authorized to resume the sale of cattle.