Chinese Exec Pleads Guilty In Honey Conspiracy

Boa Zhong Zhang, vice president of China-based Changge Jixiang Bee Products, pleaded guilty in a plot to smuggle adulterated honey into the United States.

SEATTLE (AP) -- A Chinese executive has pleaded guilty in a plot to smuggle adulterated honey into the United States, one of two criminal cases on the subject filed this year.

Boa Zhong Zhang, vice president of Changge Jixiang Bee Products Ltd. in Henan Province, China, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to smuggle goods into the country by using false statements and to introducing adulterated foods into interstate commerce.

Zhang, who worked at the company for 30 years, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Nov. 30.

Still facing charges in the case is Chung Po Liu, 68, of Bellevue, owner of Rainier Cascade and Evergreen Produce.

Both were charged with arranging to ship $1.6 million worth of honey to Thailand and the Philippines and relabel it as originating in those countries to avoid paying $3.3 million in U.S. punitive antidumping tariffs on honey from China.

A shipment in January 2008 was found to contain ciproflaxin, an antibiotic that is used to fight bacterial infections but in rare cases can cause tendon damage and is barred from the food supply.

In a related case, Yong Xiang Yan, 60, board chairman of Changge, is charged in Chicago with conspiracy to import falsely labeled honey into the U.S.

In the Chicago case, Chinese honey listed as coming from Russia, Ukraine and possibly Poland was found to contain chloramphenicol, an antibiotic that is approved for treatment of serious infections in humans but not in bees or food-producing animals.

The indictment to which Zhang pleaded guilty identified Yan's daughter, the foreign trade manager of Changge, as a co-conspirator. She was not named in the document and has not been arrested or charged in Seattle.

Zhang and Yan were arrested May 6 in Los Angeles, three days after they arrived in the country from Zhengzhou, the main city in Henan Province.

Liu, who had been under investigation for more than a year, turned himself in May 6. He faces trial April 5.

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