Berry Importer Sentenced to Home Detention

Associated Press

The head of a company whose imported strawberries caused an outbreak of hepatitis A among Michigan schoolchildren was sentenced to five months home detention. Frederick L. Williamson, 60, was also fined $13,698 by U.S. District Judge Leland Nielson. His company, Andrew & Williamson Sales Co. of San Ysidro, was ordered to pay $150,000 restitution and a $200,000 fine. Sale of the tainted berries to a school lunch program last year resulted in hundreds of illnesses among schoolchildren in Michigan, Maine and Wisconsin. Williamson pleaded guilty last November in U.S. District Court in San Diego to conspiracy, making false statements and making a false claim. The company agreed to pay $1.3 million in civil damages plus a $200,000 fine and cleanup costs. The berries were traced to Andrew & Williamson, which processed and supplied more than 1.7 million pounds of berries from Mexico. Federal law requires school produce to be grown domestically.

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