Stewart Parnell, Former Peanut CEO Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison
Sep 23 2015
He acknowledged problems at his plant, but did not address emails and company records that showed Parnell knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted peanut butter and faked lab records.
"No one thought that the products were unsafe or could harm someone", said Stewart Parnell's daughter, Grey Parnell.
Stuart Parnell, an executive with a peanut shipping company, has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in a salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009 that killed 9 people. Parnell was convicted last September on a total of 71 criminal charges, including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and introduction of misbranded food with intent to defraud or mislead. Proving food poisoning cases in court is inherently hard, as business leaders have generally been able to claim that it was an accident, or someone else's fault.
It is the first time a food-related crime gets such a harsh punishment, but U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands argued that the peanut executive had known the risks and despite that he continued marketing the contaminated products in a "desire to profit". Parnell and his two co-litigants plan to bid.
Michael Parnell, 56, a food broker who worked on behalf of PCA and Stewart Parnell s brother, was sentenced to 20 years plus three years of supervised release.
In total, 714 people fell ill as a result of the contamination, which led to one of the largest food recalls in USA history and forced the company into liquidation. "I just hope they ship you all to jail". The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection shortly after it was shut down.
Parnell, 61, was the former owner of the Peanut Corporation of America. However, Michael Parnell was also reported to have told an associate, "We've been shipping to (Kellogg's) with false COAs (false certificates of analysis) since before you got here".
Two other Minnesotans also died from eating the tainted peanut butter: Clifford Tousignant, 78, originally of Duluth; and Doris Flatgard, 87, of Brainerd.
A former food company owner/executive will face sentencing on Monday, and he could find himself jailed for the rest of his life.
Almost a decade after he helped cause a fatal salmonella outbreak, Stewart Parnell will finally answer for his role in the tragedy.
David Plunkett, CSPI senior food safety attorney, said the sentencing brings to an end the case that began following the massive 2008 Salmonella outbreak linked to PCA's products.
But still, others attended the sentencing to defend Parnell's character.
Former Peanut Corporation of American owner Stewart Parnell addressed a federal judge and a courtroom full of victims' families during his sentencing hearing Monday. "I'm truly, truly sorry for what's happened".
Parnell apologized to those sickened in the outbreak and to the families of those killed. "It's important that people who have knowingly done things to negatively effect other people's health are held responsible and accountable - it sounds like that's being done here".