Pallet Recycling Company Fined, Owner Sentenced for ISPM-15 Stamp Crime

Pallet recycler to pay $100,000; former owner fined and sentenced. 

The use of bogus ISPM-15 stamps has resulted in the largest fine of its kind to date. The company involved is American Pallet Recycling, L.L.C. (APR), as well as Raymond Viola, its former president and owner, who found themselves on the wrong side of a dispute involving the Justice Department and the Department of Agriculture. After pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York to criminal violations related to the falsification of certificate stamps in violation of the Plant Protection Act, , the sentencing was announced.  Resulting from a plea agreement, American Pallet Recycling will pay a fine of $100,000. Meanwhile, Viola will pay a $1,000 fine and serve three years of probation. He has relinquished the company to his son.

The company pleaded guilty to one felony count of falsifying stamps that certified wood pallets were heat treated, and also to a similar misdemeanor count.  Viola utilized the false stamps to mark wood pallets which were used to move merchandise from the United States to foreign countries.  The criminal conduct happened between March 2007 and January 2011.

As part of the ISPM-15 program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires the heat treatment of wood pallets used in international transactions, with a goal of preventing the transfer of parasites and plant diseases internationally in conjunction with wood packaging materials.  The Department of Agriculture began requiring heat treatment of wood packaging material in September 2005.  The program does not cover domestic shipments.

This is the highest monetary penalty assessed to date for falsified use of a fraudulent mark related to wood packaging materials under the Plant Protection Act. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It was prosecuted by Senior Counsel Rocky Piaggione of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.

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