No cigarettes, no matches: Imprisoned peanut exec won’t have to pay salmonella victims

Makes me think of Ontario’s own, Max Webster. It just don’t make any sense.

max.websterA former peanut company executive serving a 28-year prison sentence won’t have to pay money to victims of a deadly salmonella outbreak linked to his Georgia plant, a federal judge ruled.

Former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and three co-defendants were spared by the judge’s order Wednesday from paying restitution to corporate customers and the families of hundreds who got sick after eating tainted peanut butter in 2008 and 2009. The outbreak was blamed for nine deaths and 714 illnesses.

Convicted of knowingly shipping tainted peanut butter and faking results of lab tests for salmonella, Parnell received the harshest criminal penalty ever for a U.S. producer in a food-borne illness case when he was sentenced to prison in September. His brother, food broker Michael Parnell, got 20 years in prison.

But the question of whether the Parnell brothers and two former managers of Peanut Corporation’s plant in rural Blakely, Georgia, should compensate victims for financial losses dragged the case out for six more months.

Ultimately, U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands ruled victim loss estimates provided by prosecutors were invalid because they were based on civil claims and included costs — such as attorney fees — that can’t be recovered in a criminal case.

Parnell’s attorney, Tom Bondurant, said the same financial loss estimates the judge deemed too flawed for calculating restitution had played a big role in determining Parnell’s long prison sentence.