Iconic Biloxi Restaurant Fined $1.35 Million for Selling Imported Frozen Seafood as Fresh Local Catch

Iconic Biloxi Restaurant Fined $1.35 Million for Selling Imported Frozen Seafood as Fresh Local Catch

Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant, a beloved Biloxi landmark, has admitted to a deceptive practice that defrauded its customers for years.

Despite its location in a town famous for its commercial fishing industry, the restaurant misled patrons by serving imported frozen seafood as fresh, local catch.

This revelation has led to significant legal repercussions, including a hefty $1.35 million forfeiture.

Deceptive Practices Unveiled

From 2013 to 2019, Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant engaged in a fraudulent scheme that misled diners about the origin and freshness of its seafood.

The restaurant purchased more than 29 tons of lake perch, tripletail, triggerfish, and unicorn filefish from suppliers in Africa, India, and South America.

These imported fish were then misrepresented as premium Gulf red snapper, snapper, and redfish.

Legal Consequences and Admissions

The fraudulent activities came to light after a federal investigation led to charges of mislabeling seafood and wire fraud.

Co-owner Anthony ‘Tony’ Cvitanovich pleaded guilty to one felony charge of conspiring to mislabel seafood, acknowledging the restaurant’s role in the deception. As part of a plea agreement, Mary Mahoney’s agreed to forfeit $1.35 million to the federal government.

Federal Investigation and Raids

The investigation culminated in a dramatic raid by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November 2019. Approximately 15 to 20 agents descended on the restaurant, halting operations and asking employees to leave as they prepared for lunch service.

This raid marked a turning point in uncovering the full extent of the fraudulent practices.

Reaction from the Restaurant

Despite the serious charges, the restaurant continued its operations, maintaining that the issue was a resolved mistake.

Attorney Michael Cavanaugh described the misbranding of fish as “a glitch,” downplaying the severity of the fraud.

Cvitanovich, who remains free on an unsecured bond pending sentencing, faces up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Historical Significance and Community Impact

Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant, established in 1964 by Mary Mahoney and her brother Andrew Cvitanovich, has long been a staple of the Biloxi dining scene.

The restaurant’s reputation for serving high-quality steaks and seafood in a historic setting has drawn locals and tourists alike. However, this scandal has cast a shadow over its legacy.

Federal Prosecutors’ Statements

Federal prosecutors have emphasized the gravity of the crime, stressing the importance of honesty in the food industry.

Southern District U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee issued a statement highlighting the betrayal of trust involved in such fraudulent practices.

“When people spend their hard-earned dollars to enjoy the incredible local seafood on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, they should get what they paid for, not frozen fish from overseas,” he said.

The hope is that this case will serve as a deterrent to other establishments tempted to deceive their customers.

Public Reaction and Reviews

In the wake of the scandal, customer reviews of Mary Mahoney’s have been mixed, with some patrons expressing disappointment over the quality of the food.

Despite its historical reputation, recent feedback suggests that the restaurant’s allure may be waning.

Comments on platforms like TripAdvisor have criticized the quality and pricing of the meals, indicating a potential decline in public perception.


The case of Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant serves as a stark reminder of the importance of transparency and integrity in the food service industry.

The legal consequences faced by the restaurant underscore the serious nature of mislabeling and defrauding customers.

As the establishment navigates the aftermath of this scandal, it remains to be seen how it will rebuild trust and restore its once-sterling reputation.

TDPel Media

This article was published on TDPel Media. Thanks for reading!

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