AMS No. 077-12
Nadine Wilkins (202)720-8998
WASHINGTON, Mar. 13, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Empire Fresh Cuts LLC (Empire), of Oswego, N.Y., for failure to pay for produce.
The company failed to pay $1,022,415.12 to 13 sellers for 119 lots of produce. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, the USDA and Empire Fresh Cuts LLC have entered into a consent decision and Empire cannot operate in the produce industry until Mar. 2, 2014, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license.
The company’s principal Samuel Zappala may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Mar. 2, 2013, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond. Another principal is challenging his responsibly connected status.
Under PACA provisions, those individuals held responsibly connected to PACA violations, including sole proprietors, partners, members, officers, directors, and stockholders, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee without USDA-approval.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), PACA Division, regulates fair trading practices of produce companies operating subject to the PACA, which includes buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers, and brokers, within the fruit and vegetable industry. The USDA is authorized to suspend or revoke a company’s license for violations of the PACA. All oversight of actions related to the PACA are conducted by the AMS, an agency within the USDA.
In fiscal year 2011, USDA resolved approximately 2,000 claims filed under the PACA involving $31 million in their continued efforts to serve and protect the fruit and vegetable industry from unlawful trade practices.
For further information, contact Phyllis Hall, Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 720-6873, by fax at (202) 720-8868, or by email at
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