U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Illinois
(618) 628-3700
July 31, 2014

Man Charged with Inserting Needles into Packaged Meats

Ronald G. Avers, 68, of Belleville, Illinois, was charged by criminal complaint on July 30, 2014, with seven violations of the Product Packaging Protection Act of 2002, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Avers appeared in federal court in East St. Louis earlier today for an initial appearance. A detention hearing will be held on August 4, 2014. Each violation of the Act carries a term of imprisonment of up to ten years, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years.

The complaint alleges that the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned on July 9, 2014, from Shop ‘n Save that needles had been found in packaged meat products offered for sale. Shop ‘n Save reported seven incidents, all of which were associated with its location on North Belt West Road in Belleville. The recoveries were made during the time period of May, 2013, to July, 2014. The complaint alleges that one customer found a needle in her mouth while eating; another reported being stuck in the hand. In other instances, customers said that they found the needles in purchased meat products but were not injured. On one occasion, an employee detected the presence of a needle in a meat product.

“Shop ‘n Save conducted an internal investigation and provided information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation which directly led to the identification of Ronald G. Avers as a suspect.” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “I want to assure the public that, while our investigation is ongoing, we do not, at this time, believe that the suspect acted at any other markets or stores, or that he was working with any other persons. I commend the time, money and effort that Shop ‘n Save expended in assisting investigators in this case. As a corporate citizen, their assistance to law enforcement was invaluable. ”

A criminal complaint is a preliminary charging document. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne M. Garrison.

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