Stone Lockett
Jacksonville: 904-396-3335 The Beaches: 904-396-3335

Is that Chinese Honey - No My Dear

This federal white collar case started when a Chinese American in the Asian import business and two Chinese nationals were arrested by Federal authorities for importing hundreds of shipping containers loaded with thousands of barrels of what was alleged to be Chinese origin honey into the United States. Our client, the Chinese American, faced decades in prison if convicted.

The federal government's case was based on bills of lading that declared the contents of the containers as syrup not Chinese origin honey. This allegedly violated the anti dumping tariff designed to protect the American honey industry. By law, the barrels had to contain more than 50% Chinese honey. Lab report tests confirmed the substance was 100% Chinese origin honey. One  Chinese defendant plead guilty and agreed to cooperate. Our client, an import business specialist was considered the mastermind. All three had allegedly confessed to the crime upon arrest. It was without a doubt a tough case for the defense.

However, things began to unravel for the government when critical review by the defense team revealed that the "confessions" were not admissions of guilt. In fact, our client had traveled to the factory in China and knew high fructose rice syrup was mixed with a small percentage of  honey and pollen to make the syrup look and taste like honey.

Additionally, research confirmed that rice syrup has the same molecular makeup as honey. Therefore scientific testing cannot distinguish the substances by molecular structure alone. Moreover, one Chinese  defendant had actually worked in the Chinese factory  and knew  the substance was not Chinese origin honey. 

The defense team secured the foremost food science expert on honey identification and challenged the government's expert opinion. Following a multi day hearing the court agreed with the defense and ruled the government did not have a legitimate scientific basis for its conclusions.

The government's scientific theory consisted of looking at a slide under a microscope, seeing an abundance of pollen and  concluding it  was honey. The government's expert conceded on cross examination that the testing provided no scientific basis for her conclusions. The defense expert verified the government's expert conclusion did not comport to any scientifically accepted testing methods. 

In the end, all charges were dismissed. This case serves as a prime example of why criminal defense lawyers need to engage in critical analysis as to every claim made in criminal cases. Sometimes things are not as they appear. Without the appropriate advocacy these men would be spending decades in a federal prison instead of with their families at home.

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Mitchell A. Stone, P.A.
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Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

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Jacksonville, FL 32207

Phone: 904-396-3335
Fax: 904-399-4540
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