Shopkeeper back in jail again

Charges include misbranding or altering food for sale to humans

By Joe Beck

Town police arrested a Maryland man at his Front Royal store Tuesday on charges stemming from alleged violations of laws governing the safety of food sold to the public, the second time in less than two years he has been a defendant in such a case.

Master Police Officer Sam Keller served four arrest warrants on Rodney Sparks and, with other officers, took him into custody at his store around 2:45 p.m.

“He was very cooperative,” Keller said of Sparks.

Keller said the charges, all misdemeanors, are two counts of misbranding or altering food for sale to humans and two counts of failing to maintain and keep specific records of business transactions.

Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron confirmed that Rodney Sparks was being held without bond in the Warren County Jail late Tuesday.

Keller said Sparks is scheduled to appear in Warren County General District Court at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Sparks, 56, of Monrovia, Md., pleaded guilty in April in Warren County Circuit Court to 10 counts of selling tainted meat in his Front Royal store, Rodney’s Discount Foods, at 654 W. 11th St.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced Sparks to two years unsupervised probation and fined him $2,500 after suspending a five-year prison sentence.

Authorities accused Sparks of obtaining putrid meat from a Food Lion Dumpster in Berryville and offering it for sale in his store. Sparks admitted in an interview with The Northern Virginia Daily that he took meat from Dumpsters, but had used it only to feed 50 to 75 cats at his Maryland home.

Keller said the warrants for Sparks’ arrest were obtained from F.C. Lamneck, an enforcement officer with the state’s Office of Meat and Poultry Services in Harrisonburg.

Lamneck was also the law enforcement official who investigated Sparks and filed a criminal complaint against him in the previous case.

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