Sunday, January 28, 2018

Peanut Company Officers Case Emanating From Salmonella Outbreak - Affirmed

The 11th Circuit affirmed the convictions of three defendants coming from a 2009 investigation of a peanut production plant that was identified as the source of a nationwide salmonella outbreak. The court in United States v. Parnell stated in an unpublished opinion:

"The jury found Stewart and Michael guilty of several counts of fraudulently introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce, interstate shipment and wire fraud, and conspiring to commit these offenses. The jury also found Stewart guilty of fraudulently introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. The jury found Stewart and Wilkerson guilty of obstruction of justice. The district court sentenced Stewart to 336 months [28 years] in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release; sentenced Michael to 240 months [20 years] in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release; and sentenced Wilkerson to 60 months [5 years] in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release."

The convictions were based on conduct related to food safety and conduct during the investigation. The appellants were found to have "not [been] forthcoming with the FDA during its investigation."

"The court rejected arguments related to "juror exposure to extrinsic evidence."  The court also rejected a discovery argument made by one of the defendants. This defendant objected to the government "producing a large hard drive of documents in late June 2014 when the trial was set to begin on July 14th." The defendant argued that this was "one of many untimely data dumps, where the Government produced hard drives containing hundreds of thousands of documents..." The court found that the district court had made a finding that the documents were searchable and that the government had provided a Bates index seven months prior to trial, and that "an IT consultant helped" the defendant and counsel "search and review the documents." The Court stated that "[g]iven that [the defendant] was able to search the documents, they were not suppressed for purposes of Brady."

See also opinion - here

R. Robin McDonald, 11th Circuit Upholds Convictions in One of Nation's Largest Criminal Food Safety Prosecutions, Daily Report, Jan. 26, 2018.

(esp)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2018/01/peanut-company-officers-case-emanating-from-salmonella-outbreak-affirmed-.html

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