Three employees of a Gambrills slaughterhouse were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday, charged with violating federal meat inspection laws by slaughtering, transporting and selling uninspected goat meat.
Eddy Igweze Ndichie, president and owner of Edndichie Poultry and Livestock, was indicted along with Mawussi Kwami "Frank" Abbah, who managed the business, and Harvest "Robert" Sultry, an employee. Mr. Ndichie also was charged with making a false statement and obstruction of justice.
In an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, investigators described the slaughterhouse in the 1200 block of Defense Highway as "dirty . . . infested with flies, and generally unsanitary." One employee was seen urinating on a cement slab where some slaughtering occurred. Meat from the slaughterhouse was sold to stores in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.
Federal authorities learned of the operation May 30 when a tipster called to complain. According to the affidavit, Mr. Ndichie told the informant that he knew his operation was illegal, but that he was too smart to get caught.
"Money does anything you want," Mr. Ndichie is alleged to have said.
A day after receiving the call, federal authorities started investigating the business, located on three acres of land Mr. Ndichie rented from a local farmer. That day, they watched as Mr. Ndichie delivered five goat carcasses to a Takoma Park market. The goats were transported in an unrefrigerated van on a day when the temperature hovered in the 90s.
On June 21, federal agents bought $675 worth of goat meat from Mr. Ndichie's business. Authorities inspected the meat and found it contaminated with dirt and fecal matter. According to the affidavit, one of the goat livers had cirrhosis and one of the lungs -- which are illegal to sell -- showed signs of pneumonia.
Federal authorities confiscated all of the meat they saw delivered during their investigation.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Ndichie, a Nigerian, entered the United States on April 4, 1986, on a student visa. He is described as attending Howard University. He and Mr. Abbah were arrested July 2. Mr. Abbah's bail hearing is scheduled for today and Mr. Ndichie's is set for Monday. Mr. Sultry was arrested earlier this week and later released.
If convicted, Mr. Ndichie could be sentenced to 37 years in prison and Mr. Abbah and Mr. Sultry could each be sentenced to six years in prison.
Tyrone Watson, Mr. Ndichie's farmer-landlord, said yesterday that he had tried several times to evict Mr. Ndichie for violating the terms of his lease.
"I had problems with him," said Mr. Watson, who raises sheep and goats on an additional 17 acres. "There was a lot of trash and clutter, and he disrespected the law. He had his men living on the premises, and that was against his lease."