Federal judge admonishes Laotian, 83, not to sell home-butchered meat
As she would for any defendant being released pending trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan told Xia Xue Vue on Friday that he would lose his freedom if he commits any crimes while out on bond.
Then she paused.
“Obviously, you have to refrain from the activities that are charged in the indictment,” she told him.
Twenty years of animal cruelty citations and legal actions have not deterred Vue, 83, from operating an unlicensed, uninspected slaughter and meat delivery business in his homes, federal agents say.
Through an interpreter, Vue agreed to abide by the conditions of his $10,000 unsecured bond. He pleaded not guilty to selling or transporting adulterated or misbranded poultry and selling or transporting poultry without inspection.
While acknowledging his client's history, attorney Martin Dietz said after the hearing that the Laotian immigrant is a decorated soldier.
“He's a good guy,” Dietz said.
Vue was buying live animals from an auction in Eighty Four and a farm in Connellsville and taking them to his homes in the West End and Jefferson Hills, according to an affidavit filed by Special Agent Grant Friday of the Department of Agriculture.
Vue would drive to several residential and business areas, making short stops “consistent with delivering meat and poultry products to customers,” the affidavit stated.
A Humane Society police officer said Friday that he had been citing Vue for 20 years for the illegal slaughter and inhumane transport of animals.
Among his many encounters with authorities was a 2011 search by Pittsburgh police of his West End home that turned up 15 live chickens, a basement floor covered in blood and three large freezers filled with animal parts and limbs.
Fined and admonished by an Allegheny County judge in October 2012 not to sell animal carcasses to restaurants, Vue was stopped by Jefferson Hills police nine days later for a traffic violation. Police found 15 dead chickens and three live geese under a tarp in his truck.
Federal agents raided his Jefferson Hills home in 2013, seizing 52 chickens, seven pigeons, two ducks and a teal peacock.
Vue could receive a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the two most recent counts.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.