John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MEMET BEQIRI, also known as Matt Beqiri, 33, of Tolland, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to two years of probation for fabricating E. coli test results at his meat processing business. Judge Thompson also ordered Beqiri to pay a $15,000 fine.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Beqiri is the owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing, LLC, located in Stafford Springs, a federally inspected business engaged in the slaughtering, processing, selling and transporting of meat and meat food products for human consumption. Pursuant to the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan developed and implemented by New England Meat Packing to comply with regulatory requirements, the company is required to perform one generic E. coli carcass swab for every 300 animals slaughtered and to periodically collect ground beef samples for E. coli testing.
Between November 3, 2016 and September 9, 2017, Beqiri authorized the preparation and submission in the company’s Lab Sample Report binder, which the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reviews, a total of 36 documents relating to 52 separate carcass swabs and ground beef samples on behalf of New England Meat Packing. The 36 documents were each on the letterhead of a certified laboratory that tests food product samples to ensure safety and wholesomeness and signed by the laboratory director. The documents stated that the required E. coli testing of samples submitted by New England Meat Packing had been conducted and completed, and that all 52 samples tested negative for E. coli. In fact, none of the 52 carcass swabs and samples had been submitted or tested by the identified laboratory, or any other laboratory, and the 36 documents were fraudulently prepared using laboratory letterhead obtained from previous testing that New England Meat Packing had conducted with that laboratory.
During the investigation of this matter, Beqiri admitted to an investigator with USDA’s FSIS that the documents were fraudulent, and that his business did not collect and submit the samples to the certified laboratory because he did not correlate the potential impact on food safety with his sampling program and wanted to create the appearance he was compliant with all USDA HACCP testing requirements.
There have been no known instances of illnesses reported by anyone who consumed the meat in any of the states where the meat was distributed.
On August 20, 2019, Beqiri pleaded guilty to one count of making and using a false document and aiding and abetting.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Office of Investigations, Enforcement and Audit. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Slater.