Four Seasons Coffee owner charged in federal court with misbranding coffee

Published 9:07 am Friday, August 19, 2022

The owner of Four Seasons Coffee in Albert Lea was charged in U.S. District Court on Wednesday with felony misbranding of coffee to his customers over a period of more than four years. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges David William Nelson “with the intent to defraud or mislead, did knowingly and willfully introduce and deliver for introduction into interstate commerce food that was misbranded.” 

Nelson had hundreds of customers both within and outside of Minnesota, the court summons states. 

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According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Nelson sold coffee that was packaged without accurate net weight on the packaging and gave invoices reflecting an inaccurate net weight that was greater than what the packaging actually contained. 

U.S. Code requires food products to be sold with accurate net weight on the packaging. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges the activity took place from January 2014 through April 2018. 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau executed a search warrant in June 2018 on Nelson’s businesses, Four Seasons Coffee and Four Seasons Travel and at that time stated there was probable cause to believe Nelson committed the crime of theft, according to the application for a search warrant. The searches also included the seizure of bank statements, tax and sales documents, month-end reports, accounts payable, invoices, labels, emails and other information. 

The investigation began after the Minnesota Department of Commerce Weights and Measures Division received an anonymous report that the company had sold bags containing 4 1/2 pounds of coffee to customers that the company represented were 5 pounds. 

Nelson’s lawyer, Joseph Dixon III, of Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis gave the following comment regarding the charge:

“Dave Nelson and his family have been in business in Southern Minnesota for decades.  A number of years ago, Dave made an error in judgment about the distribution of one coffee product of the many sold.  The issue was corrected over four years ago.  Dave takes full responsibility for his error in judgment.”

Nelson is slated to appear in court Aug. 30.