Local News

Bread seller faces deceptive advertising charges

Posted February 2, 2010
Updated February 3, 2010

— The owner of a Durham bread company whose products sickened dozens of people was charged Tuesday with fraud.

Paul Evan Seelig, 47, of 3105 Cardinal Lake Drive in Durham, was charged with six misdemeanor counts of obtaining property by false pretense. He was out of jail Tuesday evening on a $100,000 bond – set by a magistrate who deemed him a flight risk.

The charges allege that Seelig's firm, Great Specialty Products, sold $154 in bread that was advertised as being gluten-free. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which pursued the criminal charges, said tests of the bread showed high levels of gluten and maintained that Seelig knew the products weren't gluten-free.

Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains, and some people with autoimmune disorders experience digestive problems when they eat products containing gluten.

Numerous people who bought products from Great Specialty at the 2009 State Fair or ordered items off the company's Web site have complained of allergic reactions after eating the products, according to a lawsuit the agriculture department filed last month against Seelig and Great Specialty.

As part of the lawsuit, a Superior Court judge on Tuesday barred Great Specialty from selling any products until the lawsuit was resolved.

Seelig was charged after Tuesday's court hearing, but he suffered a medical condition while he was being booked. Wake County deputies took him to WakeMed, where he was treated before returning to the magistrate's office.

Great Specialty has been run out of a Seelig's house. A spokesman for the agriculture department said the company didn't bake its own bread but purchased items from bakeries and packaged and sold them under its own label, claiming the products were gluten-free.

Because the company sold directly to consumers and not through grocery stores and other retailers, it's unknown how many loaves of bread and other products were sold to unsuspecting buyers, the spokesman said.

11 Comments

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  • DizzyDaphnee Feb 3, 2:18 p.m.

    This story, the Cadmium situation in China, these and thousands more like them are OPPORTUNISTS. They are deceitful and set out to not only CHEAT a person from what they desired BUT TO HARM THEIR PHYSICAL HEALTH AS WELL. I am VERY HAPPY something was done about this man and his false products and I will be happy about getting to the truth of China's ongoing affair with poisoning Americans while we pay them to do it!

  • SheriffTruman Feb 3, 1:27 p.m.

    This guy used to live in Morrisville and I had the ... umm ... pleasure of living in the same place. He and another individual tried to get elected to the board of the HOA there and make some major changes. He caused lots of strife within the community including calling the Cary News trumping up a story, which they easily lapped up, which hurt some members of the community. All this was before he was found out to have a record in another state, as has been previously reported with this story.

    All of the descriptions here and in the N&O about him claiming to have numberous illnesses and acting strangely really rings a bell. I would say more, but I want to strickly stay with facts that are publically known here as I would hate to get threatened with a lawsuit. (again)

    I will say, my personal opinion is that I would not buy helium ballons at the state fair from this guy.

  • glutenfreeraleigh Feb 3, 8:34 a.m.

    The charges brought yesterday were actually felonies and not misdemeanors.
    http://glutenfreeraleigh.blogspot.com/search/label/Great%20Speciality%20Products

  • FromClayton Feb 3, 8:06 a.m.

    pet lovin is right... allergic reactions can kill you. not to mention it gives all the little local people a bad name and hurts the buy local movement. Shut him down.

  • Unfair Moderators Stink Feb 2, 7:56 p.m.

    Make light of it if you want, but selling products containing gluten to people who cannot tolerate gluten....well, he may as well have been selling poison to them.

  • time4real Feb 2, 7:36 p.m.

    OMG, selling rolls?

  • tommys5 Feb 2, 7:21 p.m.

    The next 10 DWI arrest in Wake Co. combined bonds won't equal $100,000.

  • Unfair Moderators Stink Feb 2, 7:18 p.m.

    Ingesting gluten is a horrible, horrible thing for a person with Celiac's disease. My father-in-law has it and I can tell you that even the tiniest bit of gluten would make him incredibly ill. This man selling bread as gluten-free when it wasn't probably made countless people deathly ill.

  • gcmann Feb 2, 6:56 p.m.

    Give him the chair ! !

    Really, can't WRAL do better ?
    China is dumping cadmium toys on our children, but that story has been swept under the rug by big business and/or our elected officials.

    Well, at least he wasn't tainting his bread with lead....

  • Viewer Feb 2, 6:40 p.m.

    If the charges are true he is really dumb. Allergies are very conspicuous.

    Had he sold the stuff as low cal no one would have known the difference, unless they had access to a sophisticated lab.

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