Judge Edward G. Smith will hold a telephone conference at 1 p.m., Aug. 25, to hear Amos Miller’s motion to relieve the Amish farmer of a $250,000 fine for contempt of court in a food safety case.
Previously, Judge Smith set today as Miller’s deadline for paying the $250,000 fine to avoid further sanctions that might include jail time.
Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm filed court documents Friday that claim to demonstrate the defendants are now in compliance with court orders, including the July 22, 2021, contempt order, the Nov. 19, 2019, injunction order, and the April 16, 2020, consent decree.
Miller’s motions, asking to rescind the $250,000 fine, will be heard Wednesday by Smith in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania. Miller has raised at least $75,000 from internet supporters for financial assistance
Miller filed court documents Friday pleading with the federal judge to waive or reduce the fine. He cites progress he’s made in coming into compliance with the court’s orders, including:
- On or before July 22, Miller ceased the slaughter and delivery of amenable animals.
- On or before July 22, Miller ceased all amenable meat and poultry-related retail-exempt operations pending compliance with federal and state requirements of the Contempt Order.
- On Aug 4, Miller supplied USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) with the name of their proposed qualified, independent party to conduct the inventory required by the Contempt Order.
- On Aug 5, information was posted on the Miller’s Organic Farm website as required by the Contempt Order.
- On Aug.18, Miller reimbursed FSIS for its enforcement costs as required by the Contempt Order, and FSIS confirmed receipt of $14,436.26, which was the amount owed.
Miller swears that all court-required actions are now taken, except for paying the $250,000 fine.
Christopher D. Carusone, Miller’s attorney, says the $250,000 fine “appears to be structured as a coercive sanction.” The Harrisburg, PA, the attorney said the $250,000 fine “is inconsistent with the extenuating circumstances that prompted Mr. Miller’s acts of noncompliance.”
Miller violated a previous court order by resuming his slaughter operations. He took that action after Belmont Meats told Miller it could no longer use Miller’s citric acid as an antimicrobial.
In Friday’s court documents, Miller said his actions were “provoked by a sudden change in circumstances, not by some evil desire to trick the government.”
In his motion, Carusone asks the court to reduce the fine to “no more than $25,000.” Miller has raised at least $75,000 from supporters on the internet.
Miller’s attorney says the $250,000 fine “is excessive” and not the least coercive sanction reasonably calculated to win compliance with the court’s orders.
If the $250,000 fine remains a requirement, Miller asks for “90 days from the disposition of this motion to make payment.” Miller was supposed to pay the $250,000 fine within 30 days or risk going to jail.
The Amish Miller owns farmlands in multiple states and his own buyer’s club. Noncompliance with food safety regulations by Miller goes back more than five years.
Government prosecutors have not responded to Miller’s motions.
Miller was found in Contempt of Court on July 22 after violating Nov. 19, 2019, Injunction Order and an April 16, 2020, Consent Decree,
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)
6 readers, 2 today