Five Manhattan fish wholesalers were charged Wednesday with selling to upscale New York City clubs and restaurants striped bass caught in a part of the Hudson River contaminated with cancer-causing PCBs.
The fish ended up on diners’ plates at a cost of up to $36, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan charged in the four-count complaint.
Authorities said the bass, caught and sold illegally, came from an area under the George Washington Bridge where commercial bass fishing is banned because of high levels of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls.
The complaint said the fish were sold to various “prominent and elegant” Manhattan eateries, the names of which were not disclosed. Executive chefs at several expensive New York seafood restaurants said they did not deal with the accused companies, but all said they knew the companies as major fish purveyors in the city.
The complaint, unsealed in federal court, said the five wholesalers sold thousands of pounds of striped bass supplied by R. Ingold & Son, an Edgewater, N.J., commercial fishing concern. The bass were not tagged with the metal or plastic tag required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to show that they came from approved waters.
The five wholesale companies charged were Marlen Fish Corp., M.V. Petterri Corp., M. Slavin & Sons Ltd., Gotham Seafood Corp. and F. Rozzo & Sons Inc. In addition, five owners and employees of the companies were arrested and arraigned in U.S. magistrate court, then released on bail.
Michael Perretti, who owns M.V. Perretti Corp. and Marlen Fish Corp., and employee Carl Sciabarra were charged with buying the tainted fish.
Gotham Seafood President John McGuire and Vice President Arthur Natsis were charged with knowingly buying the striped bass.
Louis Rozzo, chairman of F. Rozzo & Sons, and Herbert Slavin, treasurer of M. Slavin & Sons, also were also charged.