Defense counsel and a U.S. attorney made their closing arguments September 11-12, 2014, in the criminal trial of three former Peanut Corp. of America officials and employees who were charged with mail and wire fraud, obstruction, conspiracy, and other counts relating to a nationwide 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak linked to the company’s Blakely, Georgia, facility. United States v. Parnell, No. 13-cr-12 (U.S. Dist. Ct., M.D. Ga., Albany Div.). Details about the charges appear in Issue 472 of this Update.
The prosecution reportedly rested its case on September 11 in a trial that began August 2, and just one defendant—Michael Parnell—chose to present any evidence during a session lasting about an hour. His counsel argued that Michael was not a company director and never received a Peanut Corp. paycheck; rather, he was a customer who purchased tainted food from his brother Stewart’s plant, said a news source. Former owner Stewart Parnell decided not to introduce any testimony, and during closing argument, his counsel sought to distance the individual man from the company, which concededly falsified documents. Counsel was quoted as saying, “PCA is not Stewart Parnell. Stewart Parnell is not PCA.” See Associated Press, September 10, 2014; WALB.com, September 12, 2014.