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Posted April 17, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Tainted meat seller accused of missing fine payment

By Joe Beck

Rodney L. Cole Sparks, the Maryland man convicted of selling unwholesome meat out of a Front Royal store, is in trouble with the law again, but his lawyer says it's all a misunderstanding.

Warren County Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp has ordered Sparks to appear in court on May 10 to show why his two-year unsupervised probation should not be revoked and a suspended five-year prison sentence reimposed, according to a document filed Friday.

The document cites Sparks's failure to pay $3,715 in fines and court costs that are part of an agreement under which Sparks pleaded guilty on April 9 to 10 counts of selling tainted meat.

Sparks's attorney, Bradley Pollack of Woodstock called the non-payment issue a clerical misunderstanding. Sparks has already turned over $7,500 to a bondsman who will pay the money after a final order from Judge Hupp formalizing the plea agreement is entered in the court file, Pollack said.

Pollack said such a bond is usually given to the clerk of courts office immediately or soon after the completion of a plea hearing, but Sparks chose to deposit the money with a bondsman who is awaiting the final order before releasing the money.

"Rodney posted the $7,500 dollars," Pollack said. "It's just not being held by the clerk. The judge couldn't imagine the bondsmen was holding it."

Sparks was convicted under an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to continue to insist he is innocent while admitting the prosecution has enough evidence to gain a guilty verdict from a judge or jury.

The charges against Sparks were filed in 2012 after an enforcement officer with the state's Office of Meat and Poultry Services in Harrisonburg accused him of selling tainted meat at Rodney's Discount Foods at 654 W. 11th St. in Front Royal.

The criminal complaint filed by the enforcement officer, F.C. Lamneck, said an inspection of the store revealed meat for sale that was "temperature abused, freezer burned, putrid, decomposed, unsound, unhealthful, unwholesome and (appearing) unfit for human food."

Lamneck also accused of Sparks of obtaining the food from a Food Lion Dumpster in Berryville.

Sparks said in an interview with the Northern Virginia Daily in August that he took meat from the supermarket Dumpsters for 50 to 75 cats kept at his home in Monrovia, Md. He denied that meat sold in his store came from Dumpsters. He said he sold meat that was received at a significant discount from supermarket employees and managers who were liquidating their inventory.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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