Look at this face very carefully, especially if you live in Argentina, South Africa, Zimbabwe, France, Senegal, or Nicaragua: this is Stewart Parnell, a peanut executive that the U.S. is trying to prosecute for indirectly causing a nationwide salmonella outbreak that afflicted 700 and killed nine. He might attempt to go on the lam!
Food Safety News reports that Parnell, 58, recently requested that the Department of Justice return his passport to him “for business purposes,” noting that he’d initially returned voluntarily to the United States thinking that he would only be charged with a couple of misdemeanors. Instead, after his arrest, he received a 76-count felony indictment, including charges of fraud and conspiracy, that carries a maximum sentence of 754 years in prison and $17 million in fines. Oh, and one of his fellow executives struck a plea bargain in exchange for testifying against him and four other executives from the Peanut Corp. of America.
So yes, a peanut executive going on the run is a Big Deal, even if “peanut executive going on the run” sounds like the setup for a 1950’s sitcom. Parnell’s attorneys insist that he would never, never try to escape the U.S. legal system, and that flying to a random third-world country for business when he’s faced with seven centuries in jail is just a normal thing that businessmen do all the time.
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