NEW YORK (AP) – Federal authorities indicted a Maine seafood company on charges that it shipped thousands of pounds of potentially dangerous shellfish to fish dealers in Philadelphia and New York who sold it to restaurants and other businesses.

Kip’s Seafood Co. of Cushing and its owner, Karl S. Crute Sr., were indicted Wednesday on two felony counts of conspiring to transport and sell interstate commerce shellfish as well as shipping and selling it.

Investigators say in September 2003 the Cushing company shipped 16 loads of shellfish after its interstate license was suspended because the water used to wash the seafood at its plant was unclean.

The indictment said Crute obtained approximately 800 interstate certification tags from Young’s Shellfish Co. in Belfast, Maine. All shellfish is required by law to have tags so authorities can track it back to the location where it was harvested in the case the water was contaminated.

Donald A. Feith, an assistant U.S. attorney in New Hampshire where the indictment was filed, said Kip’s Seafood used the Young’s Shellfish tags to try to deceive law enforcement.

“The tagging system that was circumvented was an important part of the health system,” Feith said. “If someone had gotten sick, health officials wouldn’t have been able to trace it back to Kip’s Seafood.”

The shipments of clams and mussels were sent to large fish markets, including the Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx. “There were numerous deliveries to both Philadelphia and New York City,” Feith said.

Feith was unaware of anyone getting sick from the shellfish.

“Fortunately, nobody appears to have gotten sick,” he said. “There was no serious outbreak.” Agents with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s law enforcement office also investigated also whether Crute, 66, had committed similar crimes in 2005 after his interstate license was suspended for “insufficient water sanitation,” Feith said.

“There were additional shipments in 2005 that we were not able to charge,” Feith said.

Feith said Crute did eventually install an advanced water purification system and had his interstate shipping license restored. Reached at his Maine home, Crute declined to comment because he hadn’t seen the indictment.

He said he’s been in business for 66 years.

He was scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 25 in Concord, N.H. If convicted Crute faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Feith said Young’s Shellfish Co. was not indicted. He declined to say why.

A message left at the business was not immediately returned Friday evening.


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