Maryland Cattle Brokers Get 30 Months for Faked Cattle Papers | Dairy News

Two Maryland cattle brokers have been sentenced to 30 months in prison in a scheme involving falsified cattle exporting documents.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Nov. 17 that Daniel and Benjamin Gutman, both 40, were sentenced by United States District Court Judge Jennifer P. Wilson for a conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States.

Collectively, they were ordered to pay $1.9 million in fines and forfeiture.

According to U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the Gutmans are brothers who own and operate a livestock exporting business known as Gutman Brothers Dairy Cattle, with operations in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Federal law requires cattle transported in interstate and foreign commerce to be tested for certain diseases prior to shipment, including tuberculosis, brucellosis, leucosis, and bovine viral diarrhea.

USDA certifies that U.S. agricultural and food products shipped to international markets meet both U.S. and foreign requirements. When it comes to dairy cattle, this process relies upon the services of USDA-accredited veterinarians and the animal exporters to whom these veterinarians provide services.

USDA’s investigation found that the Gutmans, with the assistance of Dr. Donald Yorlets, an accredited veterinarian, conspired to carry out a scheme to defraud foreign customers and the agency.

They did so by submitting non-authentic bovine blood samples for the detection of disease to a USDA-accredited testing laboratory located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and by issuing false and fraudulent health certificates for the untested animals.

In addition, Yorlets also falsely claimed in health certificates that cattle had tested negative for bovine tuberculosis when, in fact, the required caudal skin fold test had not been administered.

Yorlets submitted these false and fraudulent health certificates to a USDA Veterinary Services endorsement office. The USDA’s endorsement of these health certificates permitted dairy cattle to be shipped in interstate and foreign commerce.

Yorlets signed international health certificates for Gutman Brothers dating back to 2014. With his assistance, the Gutmans shipped close to 20,000 dairy cattle to buyers in foreign countries, making millions of dollars in profits.

Previously, Daniel and Benjamin Gutman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with the scheme. On Aug. 31, 2020, Yorlets pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. He awaits sentencing.

Assistance in investigating the case was provided by the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the FBI legal attaché for Qatar and Kuwait. 

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