Former peanut company officials indicted
Updated On: Feb 21 2013 01:51:04 PM CST
Four former officials of the now-closed Peanut Corporation of America were indicted Thursday on charges related to salmonella-tainted peanuts and peanut products, the Justice Department said.
A 2009 salmonella outbreak that prompted a massive recall of peanut goods led to nine deaths and more than 700 illnesses in more than 40 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 76-count indictment, unsealed in Georgia, alleged mail and wire fraud, the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead, and conspiracy.
A plant in Blakely, Georgia, roasted and processed raw peanuts. Its peanut paste was sold to customers nationwide and used in crackers, cookies, and other items.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the company shipped tainted product it knew had tested positive for bacteria linked to the salmonella outbreak.
U.S. Attorney Michael Moore of Macon said the accused are expected to appear in court in Albany next week.
The defendants were identified as Stewart Parnell, 58, of Lynchburg, Virginia; Michael Parnell, 54, of Midlothian, Virginia; Samuel Lightsey, 48, of Blakely; and Mary Wilkerson, 39, of Edison, Georgia.
Three of the four were also charged with obstruction of justice, Justice Department officials said.
Authorities said Daniel Kilgore, 44, of Blakely pleaded guilty to similar counts this week.
Food recalls are common, but criminal indictments around them are not.
Charges in this case appear to have been prompted, in part, by the defendants' alleged knowledge of the salmonella-tainted product shipment and an alleged cover-up.
Those charged could face stiff jail terms, if convicted.
Copyright 2013 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Friends and family are pulling for hit-and-run victim Mallory Rae Dies
Gas Pod Invention Increases Mileage in Santa Barbara Tests
Mother and Toddler Injured in Hit and Run
Friends React to Hit and Run Accident
Semi-Truck Driver Avoids Head-On Crash
Former Police Detective Sentenced to Federal Prison
Capps Aide Arrested in Near-Fatal DUI Hit and Run
Kids Helping Kids Raise Thousands For Community
Slideshow: 15 Mexican Drug Cartel Dealers Arrested
12 things to know about Pope Francis