Stewart Parnell, former chief executive of Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), has been sentenced to 28 years in prison following a conviction on federal conspiracy and fraud charges for his part in a Salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened more than 700. U.S. v. Parnell, No. 13-cr-0012 (M.D. Ga., Albany Div., order entered September 21, 2015).
“Americans should be able to trust that the food we buy for ourselves and our families is safe,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery in a September 21, 2015, press release. “The sentences handed down today to officials associated with the Peanut Corporation of America demonstrate the consequences for those whose criminal actions threaten that trust by introducing contaminated food into the marketplace. Our prosecution is just one more example of the forceful actions that the Department of Justice, with its agency partners, takes against any individual or company who compromises the safety of America’s food supply for financial gain.”
Prosecutors sought a life sentence for the 61-year-old Parnell, who could have received more than 800 years under sentencing guidelines. Fellow executive Michael Parnell, Stewart’s brother, was previously sentenced to 20 years, while former quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson received a sentence of five years in prison. Stewart Parnell’s attorney indicated he would appeal the sentence because the defense believes the jury used unadmitted evidence in reaching its conclusion, including information about the nine deaths. See Reuters, September 21, 2015.