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article imageMan accused of selling outdated meat at discount store

By Leigh Goessl     Apr 10, 2013 in Food
Front Royal - A Maryland man was fined and given probation after he pled guilty to 10 misdemeanor counts of selling outdated meat at his discount store in Virginia. Originally he had been charged with 10 felony counts.
A man pled guilty in a Virginia court after he was charged by police of selling outdated meat at his Front Royal, Va. discount store, according to WJLA News.
The meat was examined by state officials and described as "freezer-burned, putrid, decomposed", according to media reports.
Sparks owns Rodney's Discount Foods, located in Front Royal. It was alleged he had taken the meat from a grocery store dumpster in Berryville, Va. and Charles Town, W. Va.
Court records indicated, "Employees at the Food Lion in Berryville said they knew Sparks to be a "Dumpster diver" who frequented the store," according to Frederick News Post.
NBC Washington reported Sparks, 54, denies the charges but agreed to the plea because if supermarket employees denied giving him meat, he would have been found guilty as charged.
"He denies selling any adulterated meat," said Bradley G. Pollack, Sparks' defense attorney. "It was all basically given to him and he would give the employees a token thank-you gift, because otherwise it all would have gone to waste."
"The problem Rodney was facing was that the employees were going to deny they ever gave him meat. The judge and the jury would then believe he got the food from the Dumpster," Pollack said, according to Frederick News Post.
After pleading guilty to 10 misdemeanor counts of offering adulterated meat for sale, Rodney Cole, of Monrovia, Md., was sentenced to six months jail time, two years unsupervised probation and given a $1,000 fine. The jail time was suspended.
A condition of his probation is that he must comply with Virginia Department of Agriculture's mandatory regulations. If not, he will lose his business license.
"We hope that Mr. Sparks will comply with the law," Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney Brian M. Madden said.
Initially, authorities had charged Cole with 10 felony counts, and he would have faced up to five years jail on each charge.
Sparks did tell local media outlet Northern Virginia Daily last year that he did "dumpster dive" for meats that he fed to the dozens of cats he feeds at home.
According to the Frederick News Post, Elaine Lindholm, director of communications for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, indicated it is not against the law to sell many products beyond expiration dates. There are some exceptions, however, such as dairy products and infant formula.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides more information on selling foods past the expiration date.
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