Oil City, Pa. (WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Two Venango County business owners are being charged for mislabeled products and buying and selling game/wildlife after an undercover operation by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Starting Dec. 7, 2021, the Game Commission began a covert investigation on Heath’s Oil City Market (also known as Heath’s Market) at 220 Bishop Ave. in Oil City for the unlawful commercialization of wildlife.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, an undercover investigator bought different meat products over multiple months and many of those products tested positive for whitetail deer.
Many of the products were “mixed, ground, and blended with other meats and spices to form a final sale product” and none of the products were correctly labeled to include whitetail deer, the affidavit states.
The investigator went to the market on 25 separate occasions and purchased 47 products in total, of which 20 had allegedly tested positive for whitetail deer. Over the course of the investigation, those items included ham loaf, meat sticks, holiday kielbasa, hot sticks and various bologna.
To test the products, the Game Commission submitted all evidence to the East Stroudsburg University (ESU) Dr. Jane Huffman Wildlife Genetics Institute.
Based on the investigation, the commission found the market violated these Pennsylvania Statutes:
- Title 34 — It is illegal to buy, sell or barter, or aid and/or abet, assist or conspire to buy, sell or barter, or offer for sale or barter, any game or the edible parts of game.
- Title 18 — It is illegal to sell, offer or expose for sale adulterated or mislabeled commodities.
Heidi Wise, 44, and Rebecca Colvin, 49, both of Oil City, were named as the co-defendants in this case and each charged with:
- Deceptive Business Practices – Adulterated/Mislabeled Goods (20 counts)
- Buying And Selling Game (20 counts)
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 29 at 10:30 a.m.
The Commonwealth stated in the affidavit that they would respect the decisions of the court regarding fine structures for each of the violations.
They’ve also requested Rebecca Colvin and Heidi Wise to each pay restitution of more than $11,000 for costs to purchase the items and DNA services from the ESU Wildlife Genetics Institute.
According to ExploreVenango.com, Heath’s Market closed its doors permanently on July 27 of this year.