Man tries to blackmail Sunny Foods

POSTED: 11/15/13 2:43 PM

St. Maarten – A Guyanese national with a commercial New Jersey driver’s license, Neville Nelson, has tried on several occasions within the past week to blackmail Sunny Foods Supermarket for the sum of $25,000, according to owner Steven Huang. Nelson allegedly threatened to publicly expose Sunny Foods over what he felt was false advertising and bad food. Huang refused to be intimidated.

Yesterday morning police caught up with Nelson at the supermarket and warned him that the way he has gone about his grievance with the business is a criminal act and that he must follow the proper legal channels if he feels wronged. It is not clear why he wasn’t arrested on the spot for trying to shakedown a business.

Nelson claims that the supermarket sold him bad ground beef, and falsified the packing date, duping its customers into believing the meat was fresher than it really was. He bought the ground beef on November 6 but the package said it was packed on November 7. “When I bought meat last night, it was looking red and fresh, how come it looks bad now. You must have sprayed something on it to keep the meat looking fresh,” Nelson is reported to have told supermarket staff. He also took pictures of the package, date, and the change in color of the meat.

Huang, however, adamantly denies the accusation that Sunny Foods dupes its customers, saying that the date on the packaging was only one day off and that there was a valid reason for this. Because the year has uneven months – some ending in 30 days, others in 31 days – the digital scale is thrown off and has to be reset. Huang described this as a common problem, one the health department is aware of. “Our meat packer didn’t realize” the change of date, Huang said. He also said the meat was good when the supervisor checked it.

“We make exchanges or refund customers if they are unhappy for any products in Sunny Foods Supermarket all the time,” Huang assured. He later produced a copy of the receipt Nelson was given showing he was fully refunded for his purchase.

“We can’t guarantee the quality will be the same after it was sold due to the condition of temperature changes and the storage habits of customers,” Huang went on. Nelson, nevertheless, received his money back in full from the store.

But a full refund didn’t satisfy the man. According to Huang, Nelson approached him last Wednesday with pictures and threatened to expose his supermarket to the media if he did not pay him $25,000. “He talked a lot about Sunny Food Supermarket’s reputation, and that it will be damaged if he publishes these pictures in the media,” Huang said. “We refused to pay him and had reported it to the police already.” Huang, however, went to the media first.

Nelson returned early yesterday morning, but left. When Huang went to the police they told him that as soon as the man returned to call them. When Nelson returned Huang distracted him and lulled him into thinking he would cooperate with his outrageous demand. He asked the man to draw up a written agreement between the two because Huang’s English was not the best. The agreement would absolve Sunny Foods of all claims once he received the money. Huang provided a copy of the handwritten agreement and said that he also has a video recording of the man demanding the money from him.

In the meantime, the police were dispatched and found the man at the supermarket. After he was let go, he called Huang around 11 am. “He threatened to go to the media again if he didn’t receive his money,” Huang said.  But he hasn’t been heard from since.

Huang will not press charges just yet, but if the man persists he will seek the full recourse of the law.

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