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Ex-Peanut Company Owner Indicted After Outbreak

2/21/2013 2:08 PM ET

The former head of Peanut Corp. of America is facing charges of fraud in relation to nine deaths and hundreds of illnesses caused by a salmonella outbreak at a Georgia processing plant in 2009.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Stewart Parnell, 74, the former owner, along with his brother, Peanut Corp. supervisor Michael Parnell, plant operator Samuel Lightley, and quality-assurance manager Mary Wilkerson, were all charged with shipment fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The federal indictment against Peanut Corp. states that the company had been part of a conspiracy to hide salmonella contamination from its customers after shipment of the product.

The Associated Press reports that congressional investigators discovered e-mails from Parnell, informing Peanut Corp. employees that it was ok to send out the peanuts that had tested positive for salmonella, but that came back clear in a follow up test.

A federal judge awarded over 100 victims of the outbreak a $12 million settlement.

by RTT Staff Writer

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