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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that Vernon D. Hershberger, 41, of Loganville, WI, was found guilty by a jury on Saturday morning, May 25, 2013, in Sauk County Circuit Court. The jury found Hershberger guilty of violating a Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) holding order, following a five-day trial. Hershberger faces a maximum possible penalty of 12 months of incarceration, a fine of $10,000, and the retail value of the product moved, sold or disposed of in violation of the order, at sentencing. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
At the trial, evidence was presented that Hershberger was informed in 2007 that the sale of food without a retail food establishment license violated the law. Hershberger was again contacted by DATCP in 2009 about his sale of food without a retail food establishment license, at which time he claimed he did not need one. In 2010, a holding order was served on Hershberger that prohibited the sale or movement of specific food products. DATCP placed tags and seals on freezers and coolers where those food products were stored. Hershberger violated the holding order by disposing of and moving food products that were subject to the holding order. At trial, evidence was presented that Hershberger posted a video of himself on the Internet entitled “breaking the seals,” which shows him removing part of the DATCP seals, opening two freezers (which had been previously sealed), and moving one of the products subject to the holding order. Hershberger was acquitted of three other charges of operating without a retail food establishment license, milk producer license, and dairy plant license.
“Businesses operating within Wisconsin are subject to Wisconsin law,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “The Department of Justice, in coordination with DATCP, stands ready to investigate and enforce violations to ensure all businesses compete under applicable Wisconsin statutes.”
The charges are the result of an investigation by DATCP. Assistant Attorneys General Eric D. Défort and Phillip D. Ferris represent the State of Wisconsin as special prosecutors for the County of Sauk.
A copy of the Summons and Criminal Complaint is available here.