Illegal sales of citrus result in probation sentences
South Florida Business Journal – July 30, 2012
Four Palm Beach County residents have been given a year of probation for conspiracy to transport and sell quarantined citrus plants across state lines.
Sentenced were Randall Linkous, 61, of Boynton Beach; Andrea Moreira, 32, of Boynton Beach; Dale Leblang, 60, of Boca Raton; and David Peskind, 57, of Boca Raton.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice news release, the matter arose in March 2011, when U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors in Ohio and Illinois discovered a species calomondin citrus plant being sold from nurseries in those states. Calomondin as been under quarantine in Florida for many years as part of an effort to eradicate citrus canker.
An investigation revealed that the plants had been acquired through Allied Growers, a Fort Lauderdale brokerage company owned and operated by defendants Leblang and Peskind, the Justice Department said. The owners admitted their awareness of the quarantine restrictions and that they had falsely labeled the plants on invoices in order to conceal their true nature and move them out of Florida.
The actual grower and supplier of the plants to Allied was Valico Nurseries in Pompano Beach, owned and operated by co-defendants Linkous and his daughter, Moreira.
When Linkous and Moreira were initially interviewed by USDA investigators, they falsely stated that Valico had made no sales of the restricted plant inside the U.S. and made only “excepted” sales to Canada, after inspection and sealing by USDA. Linkous received the most severe sentence since his probation includes six months of home confinement and a prohibition from being involved with the sale of plants without specific permission of the court.
Valico’s principals were also fully cognizant of the quarantine and the illegality of their sales activities, the Justice Department said.