Parnell Sentenced to 28 Years for Salmonella Case

| September 22, 2015

Law

ALBANY —  The former head of a Blakely peanut plant, Peanut Company of America (PCA), was handed the largest sentence for a food safety case in history.

A federal judge sentenced Stewart Parnell to 28 years in federal prison, to be followed by 5 years of probation.  In addition, his brother Michael Parnell, a food broker, was sentenced to 20 years.

The case stemmed from a salmonella outbreak that prompted the largest food recall in U.S. history.  More than 700 people were sickened by the outbreak in 2008 and 2009, including 9 deaths.  Of those victims, 8 families were represented at the sentencing.  That seemed to make a difference to the sentencing judge.

Parnell was convicted on 72 counts of fraud, conspiracy, and other charges related to his approving the shipment of known tainted peanut products out of the Blakely plant.  His brother, Michael, was convicted of conspiracy and dozens of counts of fraud.  Mary Wilkerson, the plant’s quality assurance manager, was convicted of obstruction of justice.  She was sentenced to 5 years in Federal prison.

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