News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, November 14, 2008

This Week in Crime: And you thought you had lousy coworkers, plus a real fish story

Talk about an awkward carpool.

A man was reportedly stabbed by a coworker Nov. 4 after the two became involved in an argument on their drive home from work. They stopped the car at about 6:15 p.m. near Parcher Avenue and Spring Drive. As one man exited the vehicle, he reportedly assaulted and stabbed the other man, a 51-year-old Reston man, in the upper body. The man fled on foot and the Reston man was treated at the scene for minor injuries. A warrant for malicious wounding is pending.
Parcher Avenue... that sounds familiar. Wonder why?
• A sandwich was reported stolen from a business in the 13100 block of Parcher Avenue.
That must be it.

Meanwhile, we're not exactly sure whether to call this white-collar crime, or blue-collar crime, or what. But something fishy was definitely going on:
Peter Xuong Lam, of Fairfax, Va., was found guilty by a federal jury in Los Angeles of conspiring to import mislabeled fish in order to avoid federal import tariffs, the Justice Department announced today. Lam also was found guilty on three counts of dealing in fish that he knew had been imported contrary to law. Arthur Yavelberg, of Reston, Va., a co-conspirator, also was found guilty of conspiracy to trade in misbranded food.

According to evidence presented during the two week trial, two Virginia-based companies, Virginia Star Seafood Corp., of which Lam became president, and International Sea Products Corporation, illegally imported more than ten million pounds, or $15.5 million worth, of frozen fish fillets from Vietnamese companies Binh Dinh, Antesco and Anhaco between May 2004 and March 2005. These companies were affiliated with Cafatex, one of the largest producers in Vietnam of a fish called Pangasius hypophthalmus.
Mmm... We can't get enough of that hypopthalmus.
Further evidence presented at trial showed that Kich Nguyen, the head of the Vietnamese producer, Cafatex, imported the fish to his son, Henry Nguyen who oversaw Virginia Star, International Sea Products and a third company, Silver Seas, of which Yavelberg was titled president.

Lam then knowingly marketed and sold millions of dollars worth of the falsely labeled and illegally imported fish to seafood buyers in the United States as basa, a trade name for a more expensive type of Vietnamese catfish, Pangasius bocourti, and also as sole. All of the fish sold was invoiced to match the false labels that were still on the boxes. The jury convicted Yavelberg of marketing the fillets, without necessarily knowing they had been mislabeled.
Perhaps labeling the fish "The Best of Lake Anne" was the dead giveaway.

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