Arnold A. Villatico, the owner of Periwinkles & Giorgios Italian Pub and Restaurant in Oxford, Massachusetts, faces criminal charges of larceny over $250, conspiracy, and unlicensed possession of shellfish after dozens of condemned lobsters from an overturned truck allegedly appeared on customers’ dinner plates.
The Boston Globe reports that on July 27, a tractor trailer carrying 11,000 pounds of fresh lobster from Canada crashed on I-395 in Webster. The wreck tore the refrigerated container carrying the lobsters and spewed 150 gallons of diesel fuel across the load and roadway, which was closed for 12 hours.
A Webster health inspector declared the toppled load unsalvageable. And although local health inspectors are required by the state to witness the destruction of condemned food, that never happened.
Town manager Joseph M. Zeneski said Villatico began selling lobsters from a refrigerated truck behind his restaurant, and the restaurant reportedly offered $19.99 lobster specials. Police found crates of lobster inside the restaurant and plucked lobsters from boiling pots as evidence, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported.
"He had a sign out, two for one," Zeneski said in an interview.
There were no reports of illness associated with the lobsters, and Villatico’s restaurant remains open.
Approximately 2,070 surviving lobsters were loaded and transported to Boston. Then officers hauled them onto a boat and released them just outside Boston Harbor, a half mile east of the North Channel buoy. Officials said they unbanded the lobster claws first.