Food Safety News editor Dan Flynn and reporter Dallas Carter, reported yesterday that The trial of the three former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) executives that was to begin Monday morning is being delayed two weeks to give defense attorneys more time to review late-arriving documents from prosecutors.
Jury selection is now scheduled to begin July 28 for a trial likely to take about eight weeks. U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands ordered the delay Friday after hearing defense motions to both dismiss all charges in the case and to postpone the trial.
At issue in Friday’s pre-trial hearing at the federal courthouse in Albany, GA, was the July 1 delivery of a computer file from the prosecution that contains an estimated 100,000 documents.
Defense attorneys said the information was useless to them because the volume of documents could not be adequately reviewed in the remaining time before trial. A range of “remedies” were available to Sands to resolve the issue, including dismissing the entire 76-count federal felony indictment.
The other two former PCA executives facing indictment are Michael Parnell, a former peanut broker, and Mary Wilkerson, quality control officer for the Blakely, GA, PCA plant. The Parnells are charged with fraud and conspiracy, along with placing misbranded and adulterated food into interstate commerce. Wilkerson is charged with obstruction of justice.
Two of the five original targets of a four-year investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agreed to plead guilty in exchange for consideration at sentencing, which won’t come until after the trial that could see both of them testify for the government. Both Daniel Kilgore and Samuel Lightsey were top PCA managers at Blakely, and both now await sentencing.