The Petaluma slaughterhouse facing a two-pronged federal probe is now the subject of a criminal investigation as well, according to a U.S. congressman – and disturbing new allegations may offer a clue as to what direction the investigation will take.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, confirmed last week that Rancho Feeding Corporation, which has been in hot water with the U.S. Department of Agriculture since January, is also being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The news helps to clear up one longstanding question, which is why the USDA forced a massive, 8.7-million-pound recall of Rancho meat without releasing any substantive details as to what Rancho did wrong. Those details were kept secret, insiders believe, because of the pending criminal investigation.
Huffman said he was informed last Monday of the involvement of the U.S. Attorney’s Office during a call with Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak.
“The secretary emphasized the gravity of the investigation and the suspected misconduct by the owners of Rancho,” Huffman told the Santa Rosa <em>Press Democrat</em>. “That is the belief of investigators right now, although they can’t give us any specifics.”