Monday, August 30, 2010

Paul Seelig (Fraudulent Gluten Free Baker) Update

Okay, so I've been away for a little while contemplating the next steps for Gluten Free Raleigh (and taking a rest). The fact that summer is pretty much over has led me to begin to shake the cobwebs off. In addition, I've just returned from the Wake County Courthouse with the latest on the case of Paul Seelig (a.k.a. the fraudulent gluten free baker). Hearing the latest on the case has pulled me out of hibernation so look forward to more frequent posting here. Sorry for the absence. I believe the Gluten Free market in Raleigh is thriving with numerous businesses and more and more Celiacs – there is much more to report from my point of view.

Paul Seelig Update (Great Specialty Products)

Click here for the entire history (I'll quickly recap since it's been some time). Last October at the 2009 NC State Fair, a new (too good to be true) vendor come onto the Triangle Gluten Free scene called Great Specialty Products. They had some really awesome tasting Amish GF bread products that basically turned out to be repacked wheat bread sold as Gluten Free. Numerous customers became sick on the bread (including me) that was tested at > 5,000 PPM Gluten. The NC Department of Agriculture and NC Department of Justice became involved and eventually brought 9 Felony cases of Receiving Property under False Pretenses against the bakery owner, Paul Seelig of Durham.

The first court activity occurred in late January of this year. At that time a temporary restraining order was brought against Great Specialty Products which in essence shut down the company. In effect, the state of North Carolina was enforcing the Gluten Free claim of a product while the FDA has yet to act on what it actually means to label something GF. Huge kudos to this state for protecting its citizens. Within a few days the temporary restraining order turned into a permanent injunction against GSP conducting business. The case proceeded through February where Seelig was given a court appointed attorney due to his dire financial situation. In April, a Wake County Grand Jury indicted Seelig on the felony counts and confirmed that the case against him should proceed. In early June, Seelig again appeared in Wake County court with the expectation that he would take a plea deal (plead guilty to the felonies already brought against him so no further charges could be brought). Seelig surprised all by refusing the deal – the decision means that instead of facing 9 charges, an additional 20 or so could also now be brought against him. In addition to that, Seelig also decided it was a good idea to lie to law enforcement officers investigating the Kathy Taft murder case (a high profile Raleigh case) and turn in a completely innocent person in order to get out of the GF fraud case. One smart cookie. Seelig has been in jail on a $750,000 bond since early June.  Anyone visited?

The latest update comes from the Wake County Courthouse this morning. Paul Seelig was again on the calendar today. I attended to get the latest scoop. Seelig's name was called (he was not present) and his newly appointed attorney (I'm guessing he fired his first one as a stall tactic) said that the case needed to be continued. Seelig is currently undergoing "competency evaluation" to determine if he is capable of standing trial. Once that is complete, a trial date may be set. Stay tuned.


Kathy J said...

Thanks Zach. Ive been wondering what was up with the case. Thanks for keeping us posted.

Emily said...

Thanks, Zach, and welcome back!

It will be interesting to see how the rest of this situation unfolds.

Hearing from you is very nice, even if you are only able to post now and then. You are a great part of our gluten free community!

Rebecca Fernandez said...

If I was his attorney, I'd totally go with an insanity argument.

Heck, having met him, even I believe that one. ;)

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