ALBANY, N.Y. (Sep. 8)
An official of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing said today he had determined that a Brooklyn distributor of kosher cheese had fraudulently distributed non-kosher cheese as kosher.
Ralph Laws, first deputy commissioner of the department, said Harold Gottesman, doing business as Jerusalem Kosher Cheese Co., Jemco Foods and Tenuva, said the department had fined Gottesman $4,800. Joseph Gerace, department commissioner, said that if Gottesman does not satisfy the penalty demand for $4,800 by September 13, the case will be referred to the Attorney General’s office for commencement of a civil action to collect the penalty. Gottesman has not been available for comment.
Laws said that the specific charge, examined at a hearing at the department here, was that Gottesman had represented that the cheese he was selling under the brand name Tenuva was produced in Israel by the Tenuva Central Cooperative for Dairy Products under supervision of the Chief Rabbi of Afula, Peretz Zioni.
Laws said that investigation by inspectors of the Agriculture Department’s division of Kosher Enforcement indicated the Tenuva cheese was labeled as kosher because it was processed under the supervision of Zioni.
Hearings were ordered under an administrative law judge, John Rogers, named by Gorace. The hearings were held during 1984. Zioni and Tnuva cheese coop representatives declared in an affadavit, submitted at the hearings, that Gottesman had no right to use the Tnuva name on the cheese products he distributed.
DISTRIBUTORS ALERTED TO POSSIBLE FRAUD
Laws said retail distributors were alerted to the possible fraud by World Cheese Corp., a Manhattan wholesale firm which distributes kosher cheeses throughout the United States. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed that until the hearing was concluded with an official finding of fraudulent misrepresentation, the Agriculture Department could not take any such warning action. It was understood that the Manhattan firm issued its alert last July.
Laws said that, during the hearings, Gottesman admitted he had no right to use the Tenuva name. Rogers made his report on July 10 and it was dated and sealed here last August 13.
Laws said kosher enforcement inspectors made several raids on stores and seized the suspected cheese. He said the case was uncovered through the diligent efforts of the kosher law inspectors who conducted in-depth investigations and, at times, all-night surveillance to gather evidence during a period of more than a year.
He said Zioni met Rabbi Schulem Rubin, chief supervisor of the enforcement division, last July 26 at a Manhattan hotel where Zioni was staying during a visit to the United States. Laws said Zioni gave Rubin an affadavit appealing to Rubin “to put an end to the misuse of the good name of Tnuva.” Zioni said, in the affadavit, that the Tenuva cheese was not kosher.