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Michigan Processor Sentenced for Employment of Illegal Minor Who Lost His Hand in Meat Grinding Accident

Aug. 10, 2023
County judge did not include jail time or probation for the owner of US Guys Processing after November 2019 accident.

The owner of an Ionia County, Mich., meat processing company was sentenced to $1,143 in fines — but no jail time or probation — after pleading guilty to employing a 17-year-old employee in a dangerous profession, who subsequently lost his hand in a workplace accident in November 2019.

Darin Wilbur, owner of US Guys Processing, was supervising operation of a meat grinder by the illegal underaged employee, when the minor’s hand was pulled into the grinder, resulting in amputation of the hand.

The Michigan Wage and Hour Division soon after determined the employee was illegally employed under the Youth Employment Standards Act. Not only was the minor working in hazardous conditions, but Wilbur did not ensure the minor had obtained a work permit, required for employees under the age of 18 in Michigan. The Department of Attorney General received the findings of the investigation and pursued criminal charges.

Ionia County District Judge Raymond Voet explained his reasoning for not including jail time or probation for Wilbur. The memory of the horror of witnessing the incident and Wilbur’s obvious remorse, combined with the employee saying that he had been warned to be careful around the grinder by Wilbur, as well as the fact that the minor was only two months from being 18 years old, all factored into his decision to not penalize Wilbur with jail time.

“Two months later, we wouldn’t even be here,” Voet said, according to local news reports.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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