USDA Restricts PACA Violators in Florida, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania from Operating in the Produce Industry

Date: 
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 10:00am
Contact Info: 

Release No.: 020-19

WASHINGTON, Feb 27, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has imposed sanctions on five produce businesses for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).

The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:

  • Peacock Produce LLC, operating out of Naples, Fla., for failing to pay a $26,959 award in favor of a Virginia seller.  As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Marcel Basso was listed as manager and/or member of the business.
  • COOQ Merchants & Consulting Inc., operating out of Miami, Fla., for failing to pay an $11,305 award in favor of a Florida seller.  As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Alejandro Badilla was listed as the officer, director and/or major stockholder of the business.
  • Mario Tenuta, operating out of Chicago, Ill., for failing to pay a $15,540 award in favor of a Michigan seller.  As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Mario Tenuta was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.
  • Utopia Produce Inc., operating out of Glendale, N.Y., for failing to pay a $41,400 award in favor of a California seller.  As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Li Zhi Wang was listed as the officer, director and/or major stockholder of the business.
  • Haikeem A. Nelson, operating out of Breingsville, Pa., for failing to pay a $14,662 award in favor of an Illinois seller.  As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Haikeem A. Nelson was listed as the sole proprietor of the business.

PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions; this may result in a reparation order being issued that requires damages to be paid by those not meeting their contractual obligations in buying and selling fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.  USDA is required to suspend the license or impose sanctions on an unlicensed business that fails to pay PACA reparations awarded against it as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business when the order is issued.  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 in the Fair Trade Practices Program in the Agricultural Marketing Service, 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 3,350 PACA claims involving more than $63 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 8,000 callers with issues valued at approximately $156 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.

For more information regarding this matter, contact John Koller, Chief, Dispute Resolution Branch, at (202) 720-2890, by fax at (202) 690-2815, or by email at PACAdispute@ams.usda.gov.

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