Cheese manufacturer faces 15 months in prison over products linked to listeria

Judge sends Miami's Oasis Brands owner to federal prison

By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer
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MIAMI-DADE, Fla. - Oasis Brand cheeses manufactured in Miami-Dade got people sick in New York and Texas -- and got one killed in Tennessee, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Listeria was the culprit, the CDC said. The FDA later worked with the CDC to determine that it was the insanitary conditions and the decisions of the Oasis Brand owner that were to blame.  

After making promises to the feds, Christian Rivas knew he was distributing cheese with listeria and did so anyway, according to authorities.

Rivas was in federal prison Friday and faced 15 moths in prison after federal prosecutors armed with the results of CDC tests and FDA inspections were ready to show consumers were "fraudulently led to believe" the cheese was safe to eat when it wasn't. 

Before the criminal case, authorities recalled 15 of their "Lacteos Santa Martha " products targeting Central American migrants in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. The list included the "Queso Seco Olanchano," the "Queso Seco Hondureno," the  "Queso Cuzcatlan," and the "Crema Guatemalteca."

Rivas plead guilty to charges that he acted with an "intent to defraud and mislead, delivered cheese processed and packed at the Oasis facility into interstate commerce that was adulterated," according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola sentenced Rivas to 15 months in prison.  

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Justin Green, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), Miami Field Office, announced the sentencing. 

"We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who put the public's health at risk by allowing contaminated foods to enter the U.S. marketplace," Green said. 

 

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