Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paul Seelig Trial Recap Coming Soon...

Ok, I definitely have a lot to say about the 2 week, 2 day Paul Seelig (Fraudulent Gluten Free Baker) Trial that concluded this morning.  I attended every day of the trial (except one).  My gag order has been lifted so look for the post very soon.  How's that for a cliff hanger?

In the meantime, here is an article from WRAL and another from the News & Observer (both of whom followed the trial pretty much the entire time).

Additionally, here is the statement I read in court this morning before sentencing from Judge Fox.  My intent was to speak for the victims in the case and for Celiac Disease suffers in general.  Hope I did you all justice.
Paul Seelig Statement
April 12, 2011
Wake County Superior Court

I’d like to start by saying thank you to the court for this opportunity to speak today. Also, thanks to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, the North Carolina Department of Justice and the Wake County District Attorney’s office.

My name is Zach Becker and I am the author of the Gluten Free Raleigh Blog. I started the blog in 2008 after receiving a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I quickly figured out that a lifelong Gluten Free Diet was not an easy thing to follow and there were minimal local resources for successfully living Gluten Free. After 700 posts and nearly 200,000 visits over the last two and a half years, the blog has become a trusted resource for the Raleigh area Gluten Free Community. It is my passion and hobby to help others who must follow this medically required diet in order to live a healthy life. I strive to help local companies who cater to Gluten Free consumers – many of which are start-ups with minimal marketing budgets. I never ask for anything in return other than safe products for our community.

In early November 2009, I met Paul Seelig of Great Specialty Products. I reached out to him in an effort to also help promote his Gluten Free business - the same opportunity I offer everyone else. He gave me samples of what he led me to believe were Gluten Free bread products. He sat across a table from me and watched me eat poison while he described his Gluten Free Company, his patented recipes, his military contracts, his 100% dedicated Gluten Free bakery located at RDU, his family-owned 400 acre Amish farm in Ohio where he sourced all his ingredients, his extensive testing for Gluten. All things we have come to find as deceitful and damaging lies.

For the better part of 2 weeks until becoming ill, I consumed products from Great Specialty Products. I promoted his company on my blog. I spread the word around the Gluten Free community about his company who in turn made dozens of people sick. Celiacs were poisoned; small children, adults, men and women of the Triangle. Mr. Seelig knowingly used my blog as a vehicle to make others sick. To date, I have not heard of any remorse or regret, nor have I or anyone else received an apology from Mr. Seelig. He has taken every opportunity to defend his actions, to continue to deceive; rather than to seek forgiveness.

While eating his gluten containing products, I had several health issues. I had and continue to have periods of outbreaks of Dermatitis Herpetiformis also known as “Celiac of the skin”. This blistering and bleeding rash is the itchiest known to man. Back in December 2009, I suffered from multiple sleepless nights before I could get a prescription for a drug called CLOBETASOL. This class 1 super potent steroid was originally created to treat leprosy and has all kinds of side effects. The drug is so potent that it cannot be taken for more than 2 weeks consecutively. I have also suffered from weight loss and fatigue during this period – the original symptoms that led to my Celiac Diagnosis.

In addition to affecting myself and dozens of others in the Triangle, I’d like to note that this case has reached national notoriety. There are an estimated 3 million Celiacs in the USA who are passionately watching the outcome of this case. The FDA has yet to state what is required for a company to label a product as Gluten Free. This has left it open to companies to determine their own labeling. This has left the Gluten Free community vulnerable to fraudulent companies like Great Specialty Products. The state of North Carolina has the spotlight on it here today. This case needs to stand as a deterrent to others who might follow in Paul Seelig’s footsteps and defraud and poison Gluten Free consumers. Companies need to know that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

It is clear that Mr. Seelig has done damage to me and other Celiacs by fraudulently selling us gluten containing products marketed as Gluten Free. He has intentionally poisoned the Celiac community in the name of making a profit for his bogus company. Celiac Disease has over 300 known symptoms, many of which are extremely annoying but livable. However, too much Gluten ingestion over a period of time causes inflation in the intestines which will ultimately result in Lymphoma. I am often left wondering just how much time off my life this man has taken from me and others. Just how much damage was done?


Emily said...

Well done, Zach!!

Debbie Jongkind,RD,LDN said...

Zach, you have done a great job following this story from beginning to end and representing the Celiac Community well. Your "hobby" of Gluten Free Raleigh, has helped so many. Thank you!

Kelley said...

Well done.

bug said...

Why did you have a gag order issued against you in court?

kbturner said...

Zach, I am so grateful and proud of how you have represented the Celiac community. On behalf of my daughter, who has missed the majority of her last two years of high school because of this disease and its complications, thank you for being her voice and advocate!

sandjoy said...

Thank you so much.

Hajo said...

Hi Zach, thanks for all you do for the gluten-free community, both locally and beyond. I'm not sure how much longer Paul Seelig could have brought sickness to us if it hadn't been for you and the Raleigh celiac support group. Again, thanks a lot!

Carrie said...

Great job Zach!! :-)

Katie said...

Well said. Thank you!

chris said...

Zach, Thank you and thanks to your family too for giving us so much of your time to do all this volunteer work for people with food allergies. You have been so helpful to me. These last 2 years would have been very different for me and my family if I didn't have all the info you gathered and posted. Thanks also for the Seelig case statement. You DID do us all justice!

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