SEATTLE – A Burien seafood broker was sentenced to 90 days in jail for smuggling potentially contaminated clams from SeaTac to China.
According to US Attorney Nick Brown’s office, Jeffrey Olsen, 52, was sentenced on Tuesday to 90 days in prison and three years of probation. Olsen’s company, Absolute Seafoods, was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.
Around February 20, 2019, Olsen purchased 2,500 pounds of geoduck from Alaskan divers and picked it up at Sea-Tac Airport. Olsen was going to have it trucked to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then shipped to Hong Kong.
Before it was exported, one of the divers alerted Alaska state officials that they had mistakenly harvested the geoduck in an area not tested for toxins. This could lead to the geoduck causing paralytic shellfish poisoning.
An Alaska Wildlife trooper told Olsen he had to destroy the shipment because the clams might be contaminated. Olsen said he would, but instead illegally shipped the geoduck to Hong Kong for consumption.
“Mr. Olsen chose to gamble with the lives of his clients around the world, putting them at risk of shellfish poisoning,” U.S. Attorney Brown said. “We’ll probably never know if any of the Chinese customers got sick from these clams, but a prison sentence is warranted by the danger of his conduct and his repeated lies to authorities that he destroyed the geoduck potentially dangerous.”
Olsen also shipped 10 crates of geoduck to a buyer in Oakland, Calif., and forged documents listing the contents of the crate as “fresh Yelloweye.”
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Olsen told Alaska officials he destroyed the geoduck shipment and gave them a bill from the King County Garbage Transfer Station as proof. But, investigators found surveillance video from the time of the receipt showing that he had only dumped a small amount of household trash.
They also found surveillance video showing Olsen personally delivering the crates of geoducks to be shipped to Oakland.