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4 at slaughterhouse behind beef recall indicted

A federal grand jury has indicted four officials at a Northern California slaughterhouse, alleging they slaughtered diseased cows while inspectors were on their lunch breaks and distributed the cattle.

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The Petaluma-based slaughterhouse was at the center of massive beef recall earlier this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said Rancho processed diseased and unhealthy animals and circumvented federal inspection rules.

The Los Angeles Times reported that officials were charged with knowingly distributing cattle with eye cancer and processing condemned carcasses.

Erik Isakson | Blend Images | Getty Images

Prosecutors announced the charges against Rancho Feeding Corp. co-owners Jesse Amaral Jr. and Robert Singleton and employees Eugene Corda and Felix Cabrera on Monday.

Prosecutors say Cabrera and Corda and instructions from Amaral and Singleton were involved in the slaughter of cows with diseased heads. They are accused of then concealing the heads by swapping them with healthy cow heads.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the men had attorneys.

—By The Associated Press. CNBC contributed to this report.