In 2008-2009 a deadly outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium killed nine and resulted in many sickened. The executives of the company, Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), were criminally charged in 2014, along with production managers who knew about the salmonella contamination.
Stewart Parnell, second-generation chief executive of the family-owned peanut enterprise, was sentenced to 28 years in prison. The criminal charges were based on his knowing that the peanut products he was shipping were contaminated with Salmonella.
His brother, Michael Parnell, was sentenced to 20 years; and Mary Wilkerson, former PCA quality assurance manager, was sentenced to five years. They plan to appeal.
Samuel Lightsey and Daniel Kilgore, who were production managers at Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely, were also sentenced on October 1 in Albany, NY.
Lightsey received a sentence of 36 months in federal prison and Kilgore received 72 months for their parts in the salmonella outbreak. The two had pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.
Both Lightsey and Kilgore were witnesses in the 2014 trial against Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell and Mary Wilkerson.
According to FoodSafetyNews.com the sentences, imposed by U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands, are the “most severe criminal sanctions ever imposed on American food executives over food safety.”
“This sentence shows that the courts are willing to drop the boom on white collar criminal defendants whose elevation of profits over safety go so far as to kill people,” said white-collar criminal law expert Rena Steinzor. “Parnell ordered the shipment of peanut paste contaminated by salmonella that not only killed nine people, but also produced one of the biggest recalls in food safety history. His factory was a disgusting place, with broken equipment, a leaking roof, and rodent droppings throughout. Hopefully, this kind of prosecution will motivate the Congress to fully fund FDA efforts to prevent such tragedies.”
“Americans expect and deserve the highest standards of food safety and integrity,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA Acting Commissioner. “Those who choose profits over the health and safety of U.S. consumers are now on notice that the FDA, working with the Department of Justice, will strive to use the full force of our justice system against them.”
For more information, visit www.foodsafetynews.com or www.justice.org