Produce Market Settlement | NBC Southern California

Produce Market Settlement

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A big development in the criminal case against LA's huge Seventh Street Produce Market.

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    October 2007 - The Alameda Produce Market, which owns the Seventh Street Market, pleaded "no contest" to criminal charges, that were a direct result of a KNBC investigation last year. As part of the settlement, the individual charges filed against the company's owner, Richard Meruelo, and manager, John Durham, have been dropped.

    The owners of the market have promised to keep it spotless.

     The conditions at The Seventh Street Market today are a far cry from the rodent infested conditions KNBC caught on tape last year.

     "Over the course of the last year, the company has spent over $600,000 to make significant improvements," says Michael Bustamante, a spokesman for the market.

     The improvements began after KNBC's story documented conditions like water contaminated with Ecoli spilling onto boxes of produce, bathrooms with no hot water and soap and boxes of produce stacked next to dumpsters crawling with rats.

     "Without (KNBC's) undercover investigation, this market would still be in the same condition," says David Shepherd, Deputy LA City Attorney.

     At the time of KNBC's original report, the market was part-owned by Richard Meruelo.

     Last March, the city attorney charged Mr. Meruelo and John Durham with eight criminal counts of violating health and building and safety laws. Meruelo is the largest landowner in downtown LA and one of the biggest contributors to LA Mayor Anotnio Villaraigosa.

     To settle the charges, the Alameda Produce Market has cleaned things up by adding new bathrooms, storing produce away from trash, and making big improvements to the building. He's also agreed to reimburse authorities the cost of prosecuting him, and he'll donate $35,000 to local charities.

     The market will be on probation for three years. During that time, if there are any violations of the law it could get hit with a big penalty.