Robert Digitale and Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Two former owners and two employees of a Petaluma slaughterhouse at the center of an international meat recall have been charged with selling meat from diseased cattle and concealing the elaborate scheme from federal inspectors by swapping out the heads of cows with eye cancer.
Rancho Feeding Corp. co-owner Robert Singleton, 77, of Petaluma, is cooperating with prosecutors and expected to plead guilty to a single count of distribution of adulterated meat, according to court records unsealed Monday.
His former partner, Jesse “Babe” Amaral Jr., and two Rancho employees are accused of circumventing U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection procedures and processing the diseased meat in violation of federal law, according to an 11-count federal indictment.
The charges cap an eight-month federal investigation that followed a massive meat recall at the former Rancho plant on Petaluma Boulevard North. The slaughterhouse closed in February after recalling 8.7 million pounds of its beef and veal sold in the United States and Canada — all that was processed there in 2013.