Federal Judge Edward G. Smith has directed his clerk to reject any attempted filings by Praire Star Nation, “an unlicensed, third-party entity espousing sovereign citizen political beliefs, “which purport to represent defendant Amos Miller.
Miller, a farmer who has been ruled in contempt of court in food safety proceedings, wants to hitch his star to “sovereign citizen” adherents at Prairie Star, a move vigorously opposed by his Dallas attorney Steven LaFuente. He has said he wants nothing to do with “these sovereign citizen people at all.”
Consequently, LaFuente has a motion pending for release from being Miller’s counsel. The court won’t release LaFuente until at least the next hearing for Miller, scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 16.
LaFuente is the second lawyer to represent Miller in the current USDA enforcement action against him. Christopher D. Carusone was Miller’s attorney earlier this year. He sought to alter a court order after Miller was found in contempt for court for violating a November 2019 injunction and an April 2020 Consent Decree.
Judge Smith imposed a $250,000 fine payable in 30 days for the contempt charge but later held it in abeyance. Smith said he wanted to give the parties — Miller and the U.S. Department of Justice — time to agree on what might be required to “purge the fine.”
The court learned in a telephone conference on Oct.1 that “the defendants were not in substantial compliance with the court’s prior orders, and, had committed new conduct that would warrant further contempt findings and possibles sanctions. . . ”
Those new violations involve the slaughter and sale of meat and poultry in violation of Smith’s earlier orders. The government points to Miller’s most recent behavior as justification for re-activating the $250,000 fine and imposing a $25,000-a-day penalty for each day Miller illegally slaughtered animals for food.
In late summer, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) received an anonymous tip that it investigated, finding that Miller was again illegally involved in the slaughter and processing of poultry under a different name: Bird in Hand Meats.
The new operation was adjacent to Miller’s Organic Farm. Government attorneys said it showed “stunning disregard for the court’s orders and the law.”
Miller’s attempt to fire his lawyers and hook up with Praire Star appears to coincide with the new FSIS investigative findings. Before then, the court put the $250,000 fine on hold because Miller seemed to be making progress toward compliance with food safety requirements.
But those new findings are not going to be easily explained away. The FSIS on Sept. 8 found a Miller employee cutting up fresh poultry in a non-refrigerated semi-trailer at the defendant’s other unlicensed farm.
Also, on Sept. 8, the FSIS found thousands of pounds of meat and poultry in a refrigerated trailer at Miller’s main farm, which lacked any inspection markings.
In late October, FSIS found three pallets of meat and poultry at a trucking company for shipment to Miami for “My Healthy Food Club” run by one of Miller’s distributors. None of the products carried any marks of inspection.
The Court has ordered Miller to appear in the Easton, PA, federal court on Dec. 16. According to court documents, he did not appear when ordered on Nov. 12. He is facing a contempt of court finding for failure to appear. He will then face further consideration of contempt associated with the FSIS findings.
In correspondence from Prairie Star National, the court said it heard from “a purported Lawful Advocate,” “and neitherPrairie Star National nor the author of the letter having asserted that they are licensed to practice law, and it appears that the letter asserts sovereign-citizen type arguments on behalf of Mr. Miller. . .”
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