April 23, 2024

Peanut Corporation of America Executives Indicted

On February 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted four former executives of the defunct Peanut Corporation of America on 76 counts. That corporation’s peanut butter was responsible for a nationwide Salmonella outbreak in 2009 that sickened more than 700 people and killed nine.

GavelStewart Parnell, owner and President, Michael Parnell, a food broker, and Samuel Lightsey, Blakeley operations manager, were charged with mail and wire fraud, the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, and conspiracy. In addition, Stewart Parnell, Lightsey, and Mary Wilkerson, office and quality assurance manager, were charged with obstruction of justice. And yesterday, Daniel Kilgore pled guilty to charges against him that included mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, and introduction of adulterated food into commerce. If you or anyone in your family was sickened in this outbreak, the government asks that you fill out a questionnaire to help in their investigation.

The peanut butter plant in Blakely was a peanut roasting facility that processed raw peanuts and produced granulated peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut paste. Stuart F. Delery, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement, “when those responsible for producing or supplying our food lie or cut corner, as alleged in the indictment, they put us all at risk. The Department of Justice will not hesitate to pursue any person whose criminal conduct risks the safety of Americans who have done nothing more than eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

The indictment alleges that the executives “participated in several schemes by which they defrauded PCA customers about the quality and purity of their peanut products, and specifically mislead PCA customers about the existence of foodborne pathogens, most notably Salmonella, in the peanut products PCA sold to them. As the charging documents allege, the members of the conspiracy did so in several ways – for example, even when laboratory testing revealed the presence of Salmonella in peanut products from the Blakeley plant, Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, Lightsey, and Kilgore failed to notify customers of the presence of Salmonella in the products shipped to them.”

In addition, a scheme was allegedly developed to fabricate certificates of analysis that summarized laboratory analysis results which where shipped with the peanut products. Those fake certificates supposedly stated that the shipments were free of pathogens when no tests had actually been performed at all or lab tests showed Salmonella was present.




  1. Tami Hastings says

    I , for one, am thrilled to read of this outcome. And I would add to Mr. Delery’s statement, “when those responsible for producing or supplying our food lie or cut corner, as alleged in the indictment, they put us all at risk.”, those responsible for inspecting. Shame on these men. What a waste of lives and taxpayer’s dollars. I can’t even begin to imagine the costs involved.

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