Laos native gets probation for unlicensed slaughter business
Previously undaunted by 20 years of animal cruelty citations and other state legal actions, Xia Vue said Thursday that a federal conviction for transporting and selling uninspected poultry has convinced him to shut down his unlicensed slaughter and meat delivery business.
From now on, he’ll slaughter animals “only for himself and his family,” Vue, 84, said through an interpreter during his sentencing hearing in federal court, Downtown.
U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill sentenced Vue to two years of probation, banned him from attending a live animal auction in Eighty Four that was his primary source of animals and banned him from buying animal carcasses in bulk.
Cohill originally banned Vue from buying or owning any live animals but agreed to make an exception because Vue’s practice is to slaughter the animals he eats.
The judge said Vue could buy a few animals at a time, “just not a whole lot of live chickens.”
The government didn’t oppose a sentence of probation as long as it had conditions, including periodic inspections by probation officers, to ensure that Vue doesn’t resume his slaughter business, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Goodman.
Originally from Laos, Vue became a U.S. citizen after the Vietnam War. During the war, he worked with the U.S. military and helped rescue several airmen, according to the Defenders of Freedom citation that Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., presented him in 1996.
Noting that his client was brought up in a culture where animal slaughter was a routine practice, defense lawyer Martin Dietz said Vue now understands that it’s not an accepted practice in the United States.
“He’s done selling chickens to anyone,” Dietz said.
“That’s what we hope for,” Cohill said.
Vue bought live animals from the auction or at a farm in Connellsville and took them to his homes in Pittsburgh’s West End neighborhood and Jefferson Hills, prosecutors said.
After slaughtering the animals, he drove to several residential and business areas to sell the carcasses, prosecutors said.
Among his many encounters with authorities was a 2011 search by Pittsburgh police of his West End home that turned up 15 live chickens, a basement floor covered in blood and three large freezers filled with animal parts and limbs.
Fined and admonished by an Allegheny County judge in October 2012 not to sell animal carcasses to restaurants, Vue was stopped by Jefferson Hills police nine days later for a traffic violation. Police found 15 dead chickens and three live geese under a tarp in his truck.
Federal agents raided his Jefferson Hills home in 2013, seizing 52 chickens, seven pigeons, two ducks and a teal peacock.
Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or email@example.com.