Crime and Courts

Reality TV Butchers Plead Guilty to Faking Labels on Lower-Quality Beef

The men used fake USDA stamps to rebrand Choice cuts of meat as higher-priced Prime cuts

The former owners of a Brooklyn meat-packing company featured on a reality TV show pleaded guilty Monday to fraudulently mislabeling lower-quality beef as Prime cuts.

Howard Mora and Alan Buxbaum pleaded to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, for using counterfeit USDA stamps to sell the marked-up meat.

Mora and Buxbaum formerly owned A. Stein Meat Products from 2011 to 2014. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the men directed their employees to carve "Choice"-quality markings off meat and use the fake stamps to re-tag the cuts as "Prime" instead, which they in turn sold for higher prices.

"Mora and Buxbaum rang up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent profits by charging customers more than the defendants’ products were worth, and now they will pay a price for their avarice," Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement.

They each face up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

The men and their business were featured in a 2014 episode of the CNBC reality show The Profit, in which host Marcus Lemonis tries to turn around struggling businesses, often by investing in them.

Not long after the show aired, Lemonis sued the company for allegedly breaching a deal to sell him one of their brands in exchange for money to cover payroll. The suit was eventually partially dismissed and partially settled.

Mora and Buxbaum ultimately lost control of A. Stein.

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