Stewart Parnell, former CEO of Peanut Corporation of America, has been sentenced to 28 years for knowingly allowing salmonella-contaminated peanut butter to be shipped out, resulting in nine deaths and over 700 people sick. Parnell was convicted last September on a total of 71 criminal charges, including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and introduction of misbranded food with intent to defraud or mislead. The outbreak occurred between 2008 and 2009.

The former exec’s brother, Michael Parnell, was also sentenced to a prison term of 20 years, and Mary Wilkerson, a former quality control manager, was sentenced to five years, reports USA Today. The two were also found guilty of faking lab results intended for testing salmonella.

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According to the Associated Press, nine victims gave testimonials about the effects of the outbreak including 10-year-old Jacob Hurley, who was only three when he fell ill from eating peanut butter crackers. “I think it’s OK for him to spend the rest of his life in prison,” Jacob said during the daylong court hearing. Jeff Almer spoke about his 72-year-old mother, who had battled lung cancer and a brain tumor before succumbing to salmonella poisoning just four days before Christmas in 2008. “You took my mom,” said Almer. “You kicked her right off the cliff.”

Salmonella poisoning is one of the most horrifying experiences a human can have. I know, because I had it once, and always said I wouldn’t even wish it on my worst enemy. Parnell, who didn’t testify during his trial, apologized to the victims and their relatives. “It’s been a seven-year nightmare for me and my family,” Parnell told the judge. “All I can do is come before you and ask for forgiveness from you and the people back here. I’m truly sorry for what happened.”


Contact the author at marie.lodi@jezebel.com.

Image via AP.