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A Maryland man described by supermarket employees as a "Dumpster diver" has been fined $1,000 and given two years of probation after pleading guilty to selling outdated meat at his Virginia store.
Rodney Cole Sparks, 54, pleaded guilty Tuesday to 10 misdemeanor counts of offering adulterated meat for sale at his Front Royal discount store.
Sparks, of Monrovia, Md., was originally charged with 10 felony counts and had faced up to five years on each. He was charged after the Department of Agriculture discovered "freezer-burned, putrid, decomposed" meat at his store, Rodney's Discount Foods.
The meat packages for sale in Sparks' store came from Food Lion stores in Berryville, Va., and Charles Town, W.Va., reported the Frederick News-Post.
Sparks' attorney Bradley G. Pollack told the News-Post that his client denied selling bad meat, but agreed to the plea deal because he would have been found guilty if supermarket employees denied giving him the meat.
"It was all basically given to him and he would give the employees a token thank-you gift, because otherwise it all would have gone to waste," Pollack told the News-Post. "The problem Rodney was facing was that the employees were going to deny they ever gave him meat. The judge and the jury would then believe he got the food from the Dumpster."
As a condition of Sparks' probation, he must comply with all regulations mandated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture or he could lose his business license.