Two men who owned a Brooklyn meat processing business have been accused of mislabeling meat and charging inflated prices, federal officials said Tuesday.
Howard Mora, 67, of Westbury and Alan Buxbaum, 65, of Monroe, New Jersey, were co-owners of A. Stein Meat Products between September 2011 and October 2014, the U.S. District Attorney's Office said. The men purchased beef that had been graded "Choice" quality by the U.S. Department of Agriculture then directed employees to take off the "Choice" stamp and replace it with the higher "Prime" quality stamp, the attorney's office said.
Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Mora and Buxbaum used counterfeit stamps to re-label the meat then sold it at a higher price to New York-area customers.
Mora and Buxbaum have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They were arraigned Tuesday in Brooklyn in U.S. District Court and were released after each posted a $250,000 bond.
"Customers and consumers are entitled to get what they pay for, especially when the product is food on their tables," Donoghue said in a statement Tuesday.
Arthur Aidala, of Manhattan, who represents Buxbaum, could not be reached for comment. Mora's attorney, Richard Bernstein, of Manhattan, declined to comment.
The U.S. attorney's office investigated the case along with the USDA's Inspector General Office. The office's Special Agent-in-Charge Bethanne Dinkins said "the integrity of USDA's food processing systems and the security of the nation's food supply is of the utmost importance."
If convicted, the men could face up to 20 years in prison.