Associated Press reports that Stewart Parnell, former president of the now-bankrupt Peanut Corp. of America whose filthy processing plants were blamed in a salmonella outbreak two years ago that killed nine people and sickened hundreds, is back in the business.
Parnell is working as a consultant to peanut companies as the federal government’s criminal investigation against him has languished for more than 18 months, The Associated Press has learned.
Parnell, who invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before Congress in February 2009, once directed employees to "turn them loose" after samples of peanuts had tested positive for salmonella and then were cleared in a second test, according to e-mails uncovered at the time by congressional investigators.
In an interview with the AP, Parnell expressed exasperation and said he wants the pending criminal investigation resolved — one way or another.
"They just say we’re still investigating," Parnell said. "I feel like I wish they’d come on and do what they’re going to do. I’d like to get this behind me."
Parnell also said he has been directed by his lawyers not to discuss his case with family members of the nine people who died in the salmonella outbreak blamed on his processed peanuts.
"My God, when are we going to hold anyone responsible?" said Jeff Almer, whose mother, Shirley Almer, was the first known death from the outbreak in Minnesota. "So far to this day, nothing’s happened to this man. I think every person in America who was affected by this, every family who lost someone, deserves to hear the truth from this guy."