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Capt. Neill’s Seafood owner sentenced to 366 days in federal prison

Phillip R. Carawan, owner of Capt. Neill’s Seafood in Columbia, was sentenced on Jan. 9 to a year and a day in federal prison on charges his company repacked foreign crab meat into containers labeled “Product of USA” over several years.

Carawan was also handed a $250,000 fine and will be on three years of supervised release after the prison time ends.

His company, Capt. Neill’s Seafood Inc., located on North Road Street in Columbia, must pay a $500,000 fine and serve five years’ probation.

U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan presided over the proceedings in New Bern.

From 2012 through mid-2016, Carawan directed Capt. Neill’s employees to repack foreign crab meat into containers labeled “Product of USA,” which were then sold to wholesale membership clubs and retailers as jumbo domestically harvested blue crab, the defendants admitted.

The retail market value of the mislabeled crabmeat they sold was $4,082.841, according to their plea statements.

Crab meat from South America and Asia was bought to fulfill orders, court records show. Live crabs were not purchased.

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