CEO Who Knowingly Poisoned Hundreds & Killed 9 Will Spend The Rest Of His Life In Prison

In a Republican America, corporations would be allowed to freely poison consumers and get away with it. The right constantly screams about regulations killing capitalism and we should get rid of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and all the other agencies charged with protecting us from multibillion dollar corporations. Fortunately for the hundreds of people and the nine others who died from salmonella tainted peanut butter in 2009, Republicans have not been able to get rid of said agencies. What’s even better is that a judge has now sentenced the former CEO of the company responsible for the peanut butter to prison for virtually the rest of his life.

Six years ago Stewart Parnell the former executive of Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped peanut butter that was contaminated with salmonella. He put his bottom line before consumers’ lives and with the help of his brother, Michael Parnell, poisoned 714 people in 46 states and killed nine.

The FDA and CDC investigated the outbreak and traced it back to a peanut factory in Blakely, Georgia. Ultimately the tainted peanut butter led to one of the biggest food recalls in the history of the United States. When investigators inspected Parnell’s plant they found roaches, rodents and a leaky roof. They also found records and emails showing that not only did the corporation ship food that tested positive for salmonella, but that they had also doctored other documents that claimed peanut butter that had never been tested was negative for the deadly bacteria.

In September a federal jury convicted the former CEO of 71 criminal charges. The charges included conspiracy, obstruction of justice and introduction of adulterated food. On Monday U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands sentenced Stewart Parnell, 61, to 28-years in prison, USA Today reports that is possibly the toughest sentence ever handed down in a food contamination case.

In addition to Parnell’s virtual life sentence, his brother Michael was sentenced to twenty years in prison for being the broker who provided the deadly peanut butter to Kellogg’s. Also, the company’s former quality control manager, Mary Wilkerson, was given 5 years for obstruction.

“We need to send a message to these food manufacturers,” said Randy Napier, whose mother died from the outbreak. “No one else should have to go through what we did, watching my mother die. I’m hoping to have closure. It’s been six years of utter hell.”

The judge didn’t just hit the executives with jail time; he also said that Parnell and Wilkerson should share the nearly $200 million in losses suffered from the outbreak, and Michael should be made to pay $50 million.

These families are going to see justice be served, in spite of the Republican Party’s desire to dismantle the agencies set up to protect us from this type of thing. Would this man have gone to prison if the Obama Administration was not in charge of the country and instead it was under Bush? Maybe, but more likely no, because the GOP has always cared more about corporate profits than they care about people. In a right-wing America, we would all be dying from dirty air, polluted water, tainted food and a lack of medical care. That’s what they want.

Featured image via DailyKos