More than a month after federal agents seized evidence at an international food supplier in southwest Cedar Rapids, there are now at least a few public details about the raid itself.
The raid by agents with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture took place at Midamar Corporation, 1105 60th Ave. S.W., on Oct. 17. Agents on the scene and the company itself had little comment about the raid’s purpose. Midamar supplies food products in the United States and to more than 30 other countries. One of Midamar’s specialties is “Halal” meat products that are produced according to the religious standards of Islamic culture.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids still hasn’t provided a reason for the raid. But court documents, including a ruling made by Northern District Federal Chief Judge Linda Reade on Monday, provide some information on events at the southwest side company.
Reade’s ruling denied a request by Midamar to return funds frozen by the federal government during the investigation. A warrant issued by a magistrate Oct. 16 authorized the United States to seize up to $1,703,448 in Midamar’s company bank account at Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust. Another warrant authorized the seizure of certain books and records from the company offices.
Reade noted the government actually seized a lesser amount from company accounts. The exact amount frozen was $454,136.86.
Shortly after the raid, company attorneys filed a motion asking for the return of the funds. The petition stated Midamar needed the operating funds because it was having problems meeting financial obligations and was in danger of closing operations. The petition also noted the government has not, to date, filed a forfeiture notice, nor issued any criminal complaints against the company or officers.
Reade’s ruling Monday denied the request, noting that the company had other ways to obtain financing while the investigation was ongoing.
One court document in the case came from the Des Moines district office of the USDA. It cited instances of mislabeled or falsified products exported to customers by Midamar in 2010. The USDA withdrew inspection services from the company that year. However, the document also noted that Midamar submitted a correction plan to USDA in 2011 that was accepted. Inspections resumed in July of that year.
A statement from the company issued Tuesday afternoon said only “at present, the case is ongoing and as such, Midamar continues to cooperate with the authorities involved.” In a phone conversation, company director Jalel Aossey said Midamar was “no further along than we were on the day of the raid” in understanding the reasons behind it. And as for company operations, Aossey said “at this stage, we are trying to keep things moving along.”