The court in Petach Tikvah has sentenced brothers Yochanan and Chaim Mellul, owners of the Tov Teva plant in Moshav Rintiya, which imports organic foods, to suspended jail terms and heavy fines for kashrus fraud.
Judge Leah Lev On stated that the two had falsely claimed that their products were kosher, even though they did not have any genuine kashrus certification. Although these items were not kosher at all, it stated on their packaging that they were. Yochanan Mellul received a nine-month suspended jail sentence and a NIS 12,000 fine, while his brother Chaim was given an eight-month suspended sentence and fined NIS 10,000.
One example of the company’s offenses was a false claim that chow miso that they had imported from Japan bore a hechsher from Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, president of the OK Kashrus Laboratories.
While passing sentence, the judge stated that the defendants had misled Torah-observant customers, cheated them in terms of kashrus and had caused them to violate their religious principles.
The judge wrote that the brothers had admitted that they had never approached the Chief Rabbinate and that they denied the charges against them because they felt that they were being unfairly attacked. They claimed that many in the industry “work without the Rabbinate.”
“With this, the defendants displayed a complete disregard for the law and its regulations, assuming that they would not be caught or that charges would be brought against them,” wrote the judge.
The judge added that Yochanan Mellul had past convictions for kashrus offenses and fraud. However, when passing sentence, she decided to take into account the long time that had passed since the offenses occurred and the subsequent delay in pressing charges.