Release No.: 058-17
WASHINGTON, March 31, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Southern Melon Distributors Inc., Atlanta, Ga., for failure to pay for produce.
The company failed to pay $252,495 to three sellers for 34 lots of produce. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, Southern Melon Distributors Inc. cannot operate in the produce industry until March 4, 2019, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license.
The company’s principal, Jonathan D. Letsinger, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until March 4, 2018, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.
USDA is required to publish the finding that a business has committed willful, repeated and flagrant violations of PACA as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business during the violation period. Those individuals, including sole proprietors, partners, members, managers, officers, directors or major stockholders may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee without USDA-approval.
The PACA Division, which is part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. Our experts also assisted more than 8,000 callers with issues valued at approximately $140 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.
For further information, contact Josephine E. Jenkins, Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 720-6873, or by email at PACAInvestigations@ams.usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity lender, provider and employer.
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