Maryland Livestock Brokers Sentenced to 30 Months for Exporting Dairy Cattle Through Fraudulent Health Certificates | USAO-MDPA

HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on November 17, 2022, Daniel Gutman, 40, and Benjamin Gutman, 40, both residents of Maryland, were each sentenced by US District Court Judge Jennifer P Wilson 30 months in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud and crimes against the United States. Together they were ordered to pay $1,938,646.42 in fines and forfeiture.

According to US Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Daniel Gutman and Benjamin Gutman are brothers who own and operate a cattle export company called Gutman Brothers Dairy Cattle (“Gutman Brothers”) with offices in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Federal law requires cattle transported in interstate and foreign commerce to be tested for certain diseases prior to shipment, including tuberculosis, brucellosis, leukosis, and bovine virus diarrhea. The US Department of Agriculture certifies that US agricultural and food products shipped to international markets meet both US and foreign requirements. For dairy cattle, this process relies on the services of USDA-accredited veterinarians and the animal exporters that those veterinarians serve.

The USDA investigation found that Daniel Gutman and Benjamin Gutman, with the assistance of Dr. Donald Yorlets, a USDA-accredited veterinarian, conspired to defraud foreign customers and the USDA. They did this by submitting inauthentic cattle blood samples for disease detection to a USDA-accredited testing laboratory in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and issuing false and fraudulent health certificates for the untested animals. In addition, Yorlets falsely claimed in health certificates that cattle had tested negative for bovine tuberculosis, when in fact the required caudal skinfold test had not been performed. In addition, Yorlets submitted these false and fraudulent health certificates to a USDA Veterinary Services Endorsement Office. USDA endorsement of these health certificates allowed dairy cattle to be shipped in interstate and foreign commerce.

Yorlets signed international health certificates for Gutman Brothers in 2014. With his help, Daniel and Benjamin Gutman shipped nearly 20,000 head of dairy cattle to overseas buyers, reaping millions of dollars in profits.

Previously, Daniel and Benjamin Gutman had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with the scheme. Likewise, on August 31, 2020, Yorlets pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charge alleging conspiracy to defraud the United States. Yorlets is currently awaiting sentencing.

“Trade and commerce with our domestic and foreign partners requires fair, lawful and transparent conduct by all parties. Without trust in the system, there can be no trade. The Gutman brothers broke that trust and damaged relationships with our partners,” said William S. Walker, Special Agent in Charge of HSI’s Philadelphia office .”

“We appreciate the continued commitment and concerted efforts of our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Investigative and Enforcement Services to maintain a long-standing… to investigate a program involving the export of healthy animals from the United States and the improper issuance of required health certificates based on fraudulent test results,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Bethanne M. Dinkins of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of the Inspector General (OIG). “To ensure integrity in international trade, the USDA and OIG will continue to allocate resources and prioritize work that deters those attempting to take shortcuts to increase their own profit margins while protecting the value and safety of American agricultural products.” ”

The case was investigated by the US Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Inspector General and Homeland Security. Assistant US Attorneys Ravi Romel Sharma and Philip J. Caraballo prosecuted the case. Assistant US Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel, now retired, previously worked on the case. Assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the FBI’s Legal Attaché for Qatar and Kuwait.

# # #