Peanut Corporation officials granted bond - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Peanut Corporation officials granted bond

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Officials from Peanut Corporation of America are going on trial. Officials from Peanut Corporation of America are going on trial.
The Federal Courthouse in Albany, scene of an upcoming trial of four former Peanut Corporation of America officials. The Federal Courthouse in Albany, scene of an upcoming trial of four former Peanut Corporation of America officials.
Mary Wilkerson, one of the defendants leaves the courthouse Thursday. Mary Wilkerson, one of the defendants leaves the courthouse Thursday.
Thomas Bondurant, the lawyer for Stewart Parnell speaks to WALB. Thomas Bondurant, the lawyer for Stewart Parnell speaks to WALB.
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Four former officials of a Blakely peanut plant are free on bond after they were arraigned in Albany Federal Court Thursday on charges connected a deadly 2009 salmonella outbreak.

Prosecutors say the Peanut Corporation of America intentionally sold products they knew were contaminated.

If the defendants convicted on all counts, they could face a combined sentence of nearly 1600 years.

The four defendants stood silently while the counts were read, then they all pled not guilty.

Mary Wilkerson faces two counts which could land her in jail for up to 10 years and earn her a half million dollar fine.  Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell faces most of the 76 counts that were laid out in the indictment.  His lawyer told us he doesn't agree with the case that the government laid out.

"The FDA knew the testing protocol of the Peanut Corporation of America and yet they continued to allow it to go forward.  And I think it will be clear that Stewart never intentionally shipped or caused to be shipped any tainted product," said Thomas Bondurant.

All four defendants were released on bond.  Stewart and Michael Parnell had bonds of $100,000 dollars placed on them, Samuel Lightsey had a bond set at $50,000 and Wilkerson had a bond set at $25,000 dollars.

No date for the trial has been set yet.  The 2009 salmonella outbreak killed nine people and sickened hundreds of others.

The charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and others related to contaminated or misbranded food.

Peanut Corporation of America later went bankrupt.

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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