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ConAgra Agrees to Plead Guilty, Pay $11.2 Million for Peter Pan Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak

ConAgra Agrees to Plead Guilty, Pay $11.2 Million for Peter Pan Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak


The sum is the largest criminal fine in a food safety case, the Justice Department confirmed

The plea agreement includes a criminal fine of $8 million and assets forfeited totalling $3.2 million.

ConAgra Foods Inc., the Omaha-based packaged foods corporation — whose brands include Blue Bonnet, Chef Boyardee, Fleischmann’s, Kid Cuisine, Manwich, and Hebrew National, among others — has agreed to pay $11.2 million and take responsibility for the salmonella outbreak between 2006 and 2007 that was linked to Peter Pan peanut butter, produced in Sylvester, Georgia.

In 2007, Peter Pan peanut butter and all Great Value peanut butter (produced by ConAgra for Walmart) was linked to a salmonella outbreak that spread across 44 states and made more than 700 people ill, a number of whom were later hospitalized. No deaths resulted from the outbreak.

According to Food Safety News, “The problem was traced to an old peanut roaster not uniformly heating, a storm-damaged sugar silo which was permitting the entry of birds and insects, and a leaky roof, which may have allowed moisture into the production process.”

In the months following the recall, the production facility was upgraded, and ConAgra took steps to initiate “more robust food safety practices at every step of its production.”

The company will plead guilty to a single misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The plea agreement must still be accepted by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

The proposed fine is the largest sum ever paid in a U.S. food safety case, according to the Justice Department.


ConAgra to finalize plea deal in tainted peanut butter case

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Food giant ConAgra faces a court hearing to finalize an $11.2 million settlement — including the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case — to resolve federal charges in a salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds who ate tainted Peter Pan peanut butter.

The case has taken a long time to reach a resolution. It’s been a decade since salmonella that made more than 600 people sick was traced to a plant in rural Georgia that manufactured peanut butter for ConAgra. The discovered triggered a massive recall.

It wasn’t until last year that the Justice Department disclosed the company would face a criminal charge. That announcement came with new that ConAgra has already reached a plea deal with prosecutors. A U.S. District Court judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to decide whether to approve the settlement.

Here are some things to know about the case:

In November 2006, the federal Centers for Disease Control and state health officials began investigating an outbreak of salmonella infections ultimately blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states.

Investigators traced the salmonella to jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter produced in Sylvester, Georgia.

ConAgra officials blamed moisture from a leaky roof and a malfunctioning sprinkler system at the Georgia plant for helping salmonella bacteria grow on raw peanuts.

ConAgra launched a huge recall in February 2007, destroying and urging consumers to throw out all of its peanut butter produced since 2004.

Peter Pan peanut butter vanished from store shelves for months. Meanwhile, ConAgra spent $275 million on upgrades at the Georgia plant and adopted new testing procedures to screen peanut butter for contaminants.

Six months later, in August 2007, ConAgra announced it was ready for Peter Pan to return to supermarkets.

A federal criminal investigation followed the outbreak. More than eight years after the Peter Pan recall, in May 2015, the Justice Department announced charges and a pre-arranged plea deal with ConAgra.

The agreement called for ConAgra Grocery Products Company, a ConAgra subsidiary, to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food. No charges were brought against executives of ConAgra, which was based in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time but has since moved its headquarters to Chicago.

ConAgra issued a statement saying the company didn’t know its peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella before it was shipped. However, the plea agreement documents note that ConAgra knew peanut butter made in Georgia had twice tested positive for salmonella in 2004. Prosecutors said the company destroyed the tainted peanut butter and identified likely sources of contamination, but ConAgra had not finished fixing those problems by the time of the 2007 outbreak.

ConAgra agreed to settle the case for $11.2 million. That includes an $8 million fine, which the Justice Department called the heftiest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case. The deal also calls for the company to pay $3.2 million in forfeitures to the federal government.

The company still needs to enter a formal plea, which is expected at the hearing Tuesday, and Judge W. Louis Sands must approve the settlement. ConAgra’s final tab could get larger if the judge orders payment of additional cash as restitution to victims.

The fine shouldn’t hurt ConAgra’s bottom line too much. In October, the company reported more than $2.6 billion in sales and net earnings of $186 million during its most recent quarter.


ConAgra to finalize plea deal in tainted peanut butter case

article

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Food giant ConAgra faces a court hearing to finalize an $11.2 million settlement — including the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case — to resolve federal charges in a salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds who ate tainted Peter Pan peanut butter.

The case has taken a long time to reach a resolution. It&aposs been a decade since salmonella that made more than 600 people sick was traced to a plant in rural Georgia that manufactured peanut butter for ConAgra. The discovered triggered a massive recall.

It wasn&apost until last year that the Justice Department disclosed the company would face a criminal charge. That announcement came with new that ConAgra has already reached a plea deal with prosecutors. A U.S. District Court judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to decide whether to approve the settlement.

Here are some things to know about the case:

In November 2006, the federal Centers for Disease Control and state health officials began investigating an outbreak of salmonella infections ultimately blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states.

Investigators traced the salmonella to jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter produced in Sylvester, Georgia.

ConAgra officials blamed moisture from a leaky roof and a malfunctioning sprinkler system at the Georgia plant for helping salmonella bacteria grow on raw peanuts.

ConAgra launched a huge recall in February 2007, destroying and urging consumers to throw out all of its peanut butter produced since 2004.

Peter Pan peanut butter vanished from store shelves for months. Meanwhile, ConAgra spent $275 million on upgrades at the Georgia plant and adopted new testing procedures to screen peanut butter for contaminants.

Six months later, in August 2007, ConAgra announced it was ready for Peter Pan to return to supermarkets.

A federal criminal investigation followed the outbreak. More than eight years after the Peter Pan recall, in May 2015, the Justice Department announced charges and a pre-arranged plea deal with ConAgra.

The agreement called for ConAgra Grocery Products Company, a ConAgra subsidiary, to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food. No charges were brought against executives of ConAgra, which was based in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time but has since moved its headquarters to Chicago.

ConAgra issued a statement saying the company didn&apost know its peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella before it was shipped. However, the plea agreement documents note that ConAgra knew peanut butter made in Georgia had twice tested positive for salmonella in 2004. Prosecutors said the company destroyed the tainted peanut butter and identified likely sources of contamination, but ConAgra had not finished fixing those problems by the time of the 2007 outbreak.

ConAgra agreed to settle the case for $11.2 million. That includes an $8 million fine, which the Justice Department called the heftiest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case. The deal also calls for the company to pay $3.2 million in forfeitures to the federal government.

The company still needs to enter a formal plea, which is expected at the hearing Tuesday, and Judge W. Louis Sands must approve the settlement. ConAgra&aposs final tab could get larger if the judge orders payment of additional cash as restitution to victims.

The fine shouldn&apost hurt ConAgra&aposs bottom line too much. In October, the company reported more than $2.6 billion in sales and net earnings of $186 million during its most recent quarter.


Publisher’s Platform: Jail Time – or at least a hefty fine – for the Tiger?

Setting aside the fact that, after tomorrow’s election, the United States may well have a non-functioning democracy and that both its civil and criminal justice system may collapse under the weight of political violence. On that happy note, in the past, our civil justice system has held food producers to account. And at times – in rare circumstances – criminal sanctions have been levied in certain food poisoning events.

Tomorrow, I will arise at 3:00 AM to do a Zoom speech in South Africa. I would have flown there, but the United States’ response to COVID-19 has been so pathetic that we are all banned from international travel – a minor inconvenience, but a major embarrassment.

My talk is about the intersection between COVID-19 and food safety, but a South African tragedy is not far from my mind. The 2017-2018 outbreak in South Africa linked to Tiger Brand Polony was the largest recognized listeriosis outbreak in world history. There were over 1,000 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases from January 2017 to July 2018. There were at least 216 deaths, including 93 babies under one month of age. Many of those who survived were left with severe, life-long medical complications, and/or with the crushing grief of losing a child or another family member.

Without a doubt, the link between this human tragedy and Tiger Brand’s product is clear. A unique genetic strain of Listeria (ST6) was found in the blood or spinal fluid of the living or dead and in Tiger Brand’s plant and product.

Nearing three years since Tiger Brand’s Polokwane meat processing facility was announced as the source of the outbreak in March 2018, there has been scant progress in the civil action seeking justice for members of the Listeria Class Action filed against Tiger. The people harmed, or the families of those killed by Listeria-tainted polony consumption, are still uncompensated, which only exacerbates their losses.

In addition, despite the overwhelming evidence against Tiger, and the numbers of illnesses and deaths, the South African criminal justice system has remained silent. But why? Perhaps it is time for the South African state to look at criminal punishment as a way of reinforcing that sickening 1,000 of your customers (and killing 200) is far from acceptable.

Perhaps the United States is no longer in a position of showing how it is done, but there are in fact good examples where companies have been held criminally liable for poisoning consumers.

In 1998, in what was the first criminal conviction in a large-scale food-poisoning outbreak, Odwalla Inc. pleaded guilty to violating federal food safety laws and agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine for selling tainted apple juice that killed a 16-month-old girl and sickened 70 other people. Odwalla, based in Half Moon Bay, California, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of unknowingly delivering “adulterated food products for introduction into interstate commerce” in the October 1996 outbreak, in which a batch of its juice, contaminated with the toxic bacteria E. coli O157: H7, sickened people in Colorado, California, Washington, and Canada. As a result of the outbreak, fourteen children developed a life-threatening disease, namely hemolytic uremic syndrome, (HUS) that ravages kidneys. Odwalla was also on court-supervised probation for five years, meaning that it had to submit a detailed plan to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demonstrating its food safety precautions and that any subsequent violations could have resulted in more serious charges.

In 2012, Eric Jensen, age 37 and Ryan Jensen, age 33, brothers who owned and operated Jensen Farms, a fourth-generation cantaloupe operation located in Colorado, presented themselves to U.S. marshals in Denver and were taken into custody on federal charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FDA’s criminal law enforcement arm (the Office of Criminal Investigation). According to the six-count indictment, Eric and Ryan Jensen unknowingly introduced adulterated (Listeria-tainted) cantaloupe into interstate commerce. The indictment further stated that the cantaloupe was prepared, packed, and held under conditions that rendered it injurious to health. The outbreak sickened over 147, killing over 33, in 28 states in the fall of 2011. The Jensens faced up to six years in jail and $1,500,000 in fines each. They eventually pleaded guilty and were sentenced to five years’ probation.

In 2013, Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, both faced charges stemming from a Salmonella outbreak caused by their Iowa egg farms in 2010. The Salmonella outbreak ran from May 1 to November 30, 2010, and prompted the recall of more than half a billion eggs. And while there were 1,939 confirmed infections, statistical models used to account for Salmonella illnesses in the U.S. suggested that the eggs might have sickened more than 62,000 people. The family business, known as Quality Egg LLC, pleaded guilty in 2015 to a federal felony count of bribing a USDA egg inspector and to two misdemeanors of unknowingly introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. As part of the plea agreement, Quality Egg paid a $6.8-million fine and the DeCosters $100,000 each, for a total of $7 million. Both DeCosters were sentenced to (and ultimately spent) three months in jail.

In 2014, former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, his brother and one-time peanut broker, Michael Parnell, and Mary Wilkerson, former quality control manager at the company’s Blakely, Georgia, plant, faced a federal jury in Albany, Georgia. The 12-member jury found Stewart Parnell guilty on 67 federal felony counts, Michael Parnell was found guilty on 30 counts, and Wilkerson was found guilty of one of the two counts of obstruction of justice charged against her. Two other PCA employees pleaded guilty as well. The felony charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce “with the intent to defraud or mislead” stemmed from a 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak that sickened 714 and left nine dead. In 2015, Steven Parnell was sentenced to a 28-year prison term. His brother Michael was also convicted of multiple felony counts and sentenced to 20 years.

In 2015, ConAgra Foods agreed to plead guilty and pay $11.2 million in connection with the shipment of Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter linked to a 2006-2007 nationwide outbreak that sickened over 700. ConAgra signed a plea agreement admitting that it unknowingly introduced Peter Pan and private label peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella into interstate commerce during the 2006-2007 outbreak.

In 2020, a federal court in Texas sentenced ice cream manufacturer Blue Bell Creameries to pay $17.25 million in criminal penalties for shipments of contaminated products linked to a 2015 listeriosis outbreak. The plea agreement and criminal information filed against Blue Bell alleged that the company distributed ice cream products that were manufactured under insanitary conditions and contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. According to the plea agreement, Texas state officials notified Blue Bell in February 2015 that samples of two ice cream products from the company’s Brenham, Texas factory tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, a dangerous pathogen that can lead to serious illness or death in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Blue Bell, again, chose not to issue any formal notification to its customers (which included military installations) regarding the positive tests. Blue Bell pleaded guilty in May 2020 to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products. The $17.25 million fine and forfeiture amount was the largest-ever criminal penalty following a conviction in a food safety case at the time.

In 2020, Chipotle Mexican Grill agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine and institute a comprehensive food safety program to resolve criminal charges that it adulterated food that sickened more than 1,100 people across the United States from 2015 to 2018. The Justice Department charged Chipotle with two counts of violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by adulterating food while held for sale after shipment in interstate commerce. In conjunction with the criminal information filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, prosecutors also filed a deferred prosecution agreement in which Chipotle agreed to pay $25 million – the largest fine ever imposed in a food safety case to this day. The criminal charges stem, in part, from incidents related to outbreaks in Chipotle restaurants of norovirus, a highly contagious pathogen that can be easily transmitted by infected food workers handling ready-to-eat foods and their ingredients. Norovirus can cause severe symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping.

Perhaps South Africa can take a few pages out of the Department of Justice’s criminal prosecution playbook and get justice for the victims, as well as send a warning to food manufacturers to focus on food safety. With over 1,000 sick with over 200 dead, justice demands it.

Bill Marler is a proud trial lawyer, managing partner at Marler Clark, publisher of Food Safety News, and is involved in the Class Action against Tiger Brands.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)


Georgia-Based ConAgra to Finalize $11.2M Settlement Over Tainted Peanut Butter

Food giant ConAgra faces a court hearing to finalize an $11.2 million settlement – including the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case – to resolve federal charges in a salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds who ate tainted Peter Pan peanut butter.

The case has taken a long time to reach a resolution. It’s been a decade since salmonella that made more than 600 people sick was traced to a plant in rural Georgia that manufactured peanut butter for ConAgra. The discovered triggered a massive recall.

It wasn’t until last year that the Justice Department disclosed the company would face a criminal charge. That announcement came with new that ConAgra has already reached a plea deal with prosecutors. A U.S. District Court judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to decide whether to approve the settlement.

Here are some things to know about the case:

The Outbreak

In November 2006, the federal Centers for Disease Control and state health officials began investigating an outbreak of salmonella infections ultimately blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states.

Investigators traced the salmonella to jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter produced in Sylvester, Georgia.

ConAgra officials blamed moisture from a leaky roof and a malfunctioning sprinkler system at the Georgia plant for helping salmonella bacteria grow on raw peanuts.

The Recall

ConAgra launched a huge recall in February 2007, destroying and urging consumers to throw out all of its peanut butter produced since 2004.

Peter Pan peanut butter vanished from store shelves for months. Meanwhile, ConAgra spent $275 million on upgrades at the Georgia plant and adopted new testing procedures to screen peanut butter for contaminants.

Six months later, in August 2007, ConAgra announced it was ready for Peter Pan to return to supermarkets.

The Crime

A federal criminal investigation followed the outbreak. More than eight years after the Peter Pan recall, in May 2015, the Justice Department announced charges and a pre-arranged plea deal with ConAgra.

The agreement called for ConAgra Grocery Products Company, a ConAgra subsidiary, to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food. No charges were brought against executives of ConAgra, which was based in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time but has since moved its headquarters to Chicago.

ConAgra issued a statement saying the company didn’t know its peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella before it was shipped. However, the plea agreement documents note that ConAgra knew peanut butter made in Georgia had twice tested positive for salmonella in 2004. Prosecutors said the company destroyed the tainted peanut butter and identified likely sources of contamination, but ConAgra had not finished fixing those problems by the time of the 2007 outbreak.

The Deal

ConAgra agreed to settle the case for $11.2 million. That includes an $8 million fine, which the Justice Department called the heftiest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case. The deal also calls for the company to pay $3.2 million in forfeitures to the federal government.

The company still needs to enter a formal plea, which is expected at the hearing Tuesday, and Judge W. Louis Sands must approve the settlement. ConAgra’s final tab could get larger if the judge orders payment of additional cash as restitution to victims.

The fine shouldn’t hurt ConAgra’s bottom line too much. In October, the company reported more than $2.6 billion in sales and net earnings of $186 million during its most recent quarter.


Criminal Cases Roil Food Industry

A ConAgra Foods Inc. unit agreed to pay a record fine and plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge stemming from a 2006-2007 salmonella outbreak. The rare criminal case spotlights how stepped-up enforcement of food-safety laws is shaking up the industry.

ConAgra Grocery Products LLC will pay $11.2 million to resolve allegations that the company shipped contaminated peanut butter under its Peter Pan brand and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value label. The salmonella contamination sickened more than 700 people.

The fine—the largest ever levied in a food-safety case—marks the latest in a string of successful efforts by the Justice Department to hold food companies or their executives accountable for outbreaks of foodborne illnesses that, added together, have sickened thousands.

Since 2013, the Justice Department has won convictions or guilty pleas in four criminal cases against food companies or the executives that ran them. All of the cases fell under the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. By contrast, that is roughly the same number of convictions or guilty pleas as the agency landed under the same act in the 24-year-period from 1988 through 2012.

In most of the recent cases, the Justice Department has successfully prosecuted defendants for introducing contaminated food into the market even without proof that officials acted with criminal intent—a nuance that has jolted the food industry, given its broad implications.


ConAgra Foods To Pay Record $11.2 Million Fine Over Food Poisoning

ConAgra Grocery Products LLC will pay $11.2 million to resolve allegations that the company shipped contaminated peanut butter under its Peter Pan brand and Walmart Stores Inc.'s Great Value label.

A ConAgra Foods Inc. unit agreed to pay a record fine and plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge stemming from a 2006-2007 salmonella outbreak, according to Dow Jones Newswire. The rare criminal case spotlights how stepped-up enforcement of food-safety laws is shaking up the industry.

ConAgra Grocery Products LLC will pay $11.2 million to resolve allegations that the company shipped contaminated peanut butter under its Peter Pan brand and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Great Value label. The salmonella contamination sickened more than 700 people.

The fine--the largest ever levied in a food-safety case--marks the latest in a string of successful efforts by the Justice Department to hold food companies or their executives accountable for outbreaks of foodborne illnesses that, added together, have sickened thousands.

Since 2013, the Justice Department has won convictions or guilty pleas in four criminal cases against food companies or the executives that ran them. All of the cases fell under the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. By contrast, that is roughly the same number of convictions or guilty pleas as the agency landed under the same act in the 24-year-period from 1988 through 2012.

In most of the recent cases, the Justice Department has successfully prosecuted defendants for introducing contaminated food into the market even without proof that officials acted with criminal intent--a nuance that has jolted the food industry, given its broad implications.

The agency's actions have sparked greater awareness in corporate boardrooms and many companies have stepped-up efforts to bolster food safety, according to industry executives and lawyers. Some companies have invested in new technologies to prevent the build-up of bacteria in plants and to enhance and speed up data collection and analysis.


ConAgra to finalize plea deal in tainted peanut butter case

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Food giant ConAgra faces a court hearing to finalize an $11.2 million settlement — including the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case — to resolve federal charges in a salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds who ate tainted Peter Pan peanut butter.

The case has taken a long time to reach a resolution. It's been a decade since salmonella that made more than 600 people sick was traced to a plant in rural Georgia that manufactured peanut butter for ConAgra. The discovered triggered a massive recall.

It wasn't until last year that the Justice Department disclosed the company would face a criminal charge. That announcement came with new that ConAgra has already reached a plea deal with prosecutors. A U.S. District Court judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to decide whether to approve the settlement.

Here are some things to know about the case:

In November 2006, the federal Centers for Disease Control and state health officials began investigating an outbreak of salmonella infections ultimately blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states.

Investigators traced the salmonella to jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter produced in Sylvester, Georgia.

ConAgra officials blamed moisture from a leaky roof and a malfunctioning sprinkler system at the Georgia plant for helping salmonella bacteria grow on raw peanuts.

ConAgra launched a huge recall in February 2007, destroying and urging consumers to throw out all of its peanut butter produced since 2004.

Peter Pan peanut butter vanished from store shelves for months. Meanwhile, ConAgra spent $275 million on upgrades at the Georgia plant and adopted new testing procedures to screen peanut butter for contaminants.

Six months later, in August 2007, ConAgra announced it was ready for Peter Pan to return to supermarkets.

A federal criminal investigation followed the outbreak. More than eight years after the Peter Pan recall, in May 2015, the Justice Department announced charges and a pre-arranged plea deal with ConAgra.

The agreement called for ConAgra Grocery Products Company, a ConAgra subsidiary, to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food. No charges were brought against executives of ConAgra, which was based in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time but has since moved its headquarters to Chicago.

ConAgra issued a statement saying the company didn't know its peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella before it was shipped. However, the plea agreement documents note that ConAgra knew peanut butter made in Georgia had twice tested positive for salmonella in 2004. Prosecutors said the company destroyed the tainted peanut butter and identified likely sources of contamination, but ConAgra had not finished fixing those problems by the time of the 2007 outbreak.

ConAgra agreed to settle the case for $11.2 million. That includes an $8 million fine, which the Justice Department called the heftiest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case. The deal also calls for the company to pay $3.2 million in forfeitures to the federal government.

The company still needs to enter a formal plea, which is expected at the hearing Tuesday, and Judge W. Louis Sands must approve the settlement. ConAgra's final tab could get larger if the judge orders payment of additional cash as restitution to victims.

The fine shouldn't hurt ConAgra's bottom line too much. In October, the company reported more than $2.6 billion in sales and net earnings of $186 million during its most recent quarter.

Beijing's Hong Kong office slams intimidation of judge in tycoon Jimmy Lai's case

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Canada lowers flags after discovery of bodies at school site

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Sunday that flags at all federal buildings be flown at half-staff to honor more than 200 children whose remains have been found buried at what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school — one of the institutions that held children taken from families across the nation. The Peace Tower flag on Parliament Hill in the nation's capital of Ottawa was among those lowered to half-staff. “To honor the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families, I have asked that the Peace Tower and all federal buildings be flown at half-mast,” Trudeau tweeted.

Netanyahu May Finally Be Out as Israeli Opposition Finds Enough Votes to Axe Him

Lior Mizrahi/Getty ImagesIsrael’s longstanding and embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may finally be out of office for good, according to an array of opposition groups who claimed on Sunday to finally have the votes to kick him out of power. The development comes after days of brutal fighting between Israel and Gaza and amidst an ongoing corruption probe into the Trump-loving politician.The past month had seen an explosive 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas rock the region, leading to widespread unrest around the country. After a May 21 ceasefire brought a halt to violence, internal criticism of Netanyahu escalated. Some Israelis indicated in polls that they disapproved of the ceasefire. Critics also accused the prime minister of not doing enough to stop Hamas rocket attacks, or to reclaim bodies of Israeli soldiers. This comes after a two-and-a-half-year standoff in Israel’s parliamentary government, in which four inconclusive elections failed to gain opposition parties the necessary votes to push Netanyahu from power. “We could go to fifth elections, six elections, till our home falls upon us, or we could stop the madness and take responsibility,” said former Netanyahu defense minister and right-wing political leader Naftali Bennett in a statement on Sunday. Under an agreement made by this new political coalition between himself and centrist leader Yair Lapid, Bennett will lead the new unity government. The increasingly unified political opposition isn’t the long-serving prime minister's only problem. Since last May, he’s been on trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges, which Netanyahu has denied. Prosecutors have accused Netanyahu of numerous incidents of corrupt behavior. One charge accuses him of giving hundreds of millions of dollars in regulatory benefits to his friend Shaul Elovitch, who was a controlling shareholder in Israeli telecom company Bezeq, in exchange for Elovitch directing a news site he owned to give Netanyahu favorable coverage.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

A Black woman in Michigan was issued a $385 ticket after her new neighbor called the police on her for loudly talking on a cellphone

Diamond Robinson said she believes her neighbor targeted her because she is Black. "There's no way police should be called on me when I am on my own property."


The Latest: ConAgra pleads guilty in salmonella case

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on ConAgra's plead deal to settle a criminal case stemming from a 2006 salmonella outbreak (all times local):

A federal judge has approved the largest-ever criminal fine for a food-borne illness in the United States, resolving a decade-long criminal case against ConAgra for shipping Peter Pan peanut butter tainted with salmonella.

The settlement calls for ConAgra to pay $11.2 million, including an $8 million fine that the Justice Department calls unprecedented. It also includes $3.2 million in cash forfeitures to the U.S. government.

Federal prosecutor Graham Thorpe said ConAgra's actions "made a lot of people sick," and that with this criminal case, "the industry has taken notice."

The guilty plea to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food closes the case on a salmonella outbreak blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states.

After a decade-long criminal investigation into a salmonella outbreak linked to Peter Pan peanut butter, a ConAgra executive has pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food.

The guilty plea settles a criminal investigation into the source of the salmonella blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states.

No individuals at ConAgra faced any charges. Leo Knowles, president of ConAgra Grocery Products Company, entered the plea Tuesday before a federal judge in Georgia.

Judge W. Louis Sands was to decide later Tuesday whether to accept a settlement ConAgra reached with federal prosecutors. It calls for ConAgra to pay $11.2 million, including an $8 million fine that the Justice Department says would be the largest criminal fine over food safety in the United States.

A federal judge is scheduled to consider an $11.2 million plea deal to settle a criminal case against ConAgra stemming from a salmonella outbreak linked to the company's Peter Pan peanut butter that sickened hundreds a decade ago.

U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands set a hearing Tuesday to finalize the agreement ConAgra reached last year after federal prosecutors charged one of its subsidiaries with one misdemeanor count of shipping adulterated food. The proposed settlement includes an $8 million fine, which prosecutors say would be the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case.

In early 2007, salmonella blamed for sickening at least 625 people in 47 states was traced to a plant in rural Sylvester, Georgia, that produced Peter Pan peanut butter. A massive recall followed.

Beijing's Hong Kong office slams intimidation of judge in tycoon Jimmy Lai's case

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Among those on board the plane is Gwen Lara, a diet guru who founded Remnant Fellowship Church located in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Canada lowers flags after discovery of bodies at school site

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Sunday that flags at all federal buildings be flown at half-staff to honor more than 200 children whose remains have been found buried at what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school — one of the institutions that held children taken from families across the nation. The Peace Tower flag on Parliament Hill in the nation's capital of Ottawa was among those lowered to half-staff. “To honor the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families, I have asked that the Peace Tower and all federal buildings be flown at half-mast,” Trudeau tweeted.

Netanyahu May Finally Be Out as Israeli Opposition Finds Enough Votes to Axe Him

Lior Mizrahi/Getty ImagesIsrael’s longstanding and embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may finally be out of office for good, according to an array of opposition groups who claimed on Sunday to finally have the votes to kick him out of power. The development comes after days of brutal fighting between Israel and Gaza and amidst an ongoing corruption probe into the Trump-loving politician.The past month had seen an explosive 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas rock the region, leading to widespread unrest around the country. After a May 21 ceasefire brought a halt to violence, internal criticism of Netanyahu escalated. Some Israelis indicated in polls that they disapproved of the ceasefire. Critics also accused the prime minister of not doing enough to stop Hamas rocket attacks, or to reclaim bodies of Israeli soldiers. This comes after a two-and-a-half-year standoff in Israel’s parliamentary government, in which four inconclusive elections failed to gain opposition parties the necessary votes to push Netanyahu from power. “We could go to fifth elections, six elections, till our home falls upon us, or we could stop the madness and take responsibility,” said former Netanyahu defense minister and right-wing political leader Naftali Bennett in a statement on Sunday. Under an agreement made by this new political coalition between himself and centrist leader Yair Lapid, Bennett will lead the new unity government. The increasingly unified political opposition isn’t the long-serving prime minister's only problem. Since last May, he’s been on trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges, which Netanyahu has denied. Prosecutors have accused Netanyahu of numerous incidents of corrupt behavior. One charge accuses him of giving hundreds of millions of dollars in regulatory benefits to his friend Shaul Elovitch, who was a controlling shareholder in Israeli telecom company Bezeq, in exchange for Elovitch directing a news site he owned to give Netanyahu favorable coverage.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

A Black woman in Michigan was issued a $385 ticket after her new neighbor called the police on her for loudly talking on a cellphone

Diamond Robinson said she believes her neighbor targeted her because she is Black. "There's no way police should be called on me when I am on my own property."


ConAgra salmonella case nearing end a decade after outbreak

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Nearly a decade after hundreds of Americans got sick after eating Peter Pan peanut butter tainted with salmonella, ConAgra Foods appears close to settling a federal criminal case stemming from the outbreak.

After years of investigation and legal negotiations, federal prosecutors announced last year that Chicago-based ConAgra had agreed to pay $11.2 million — a sum that includes the highest fine ever in a U.S. food safety case — and plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food. Investigators linked peanut butter produced in Sylvester, Georgia, to 626 people sickened by salmonella before a February 2007 recall removed Peter Pan from store shelves for months.

The charge and accompanying plea deal were revealed May 20, 2015. More than 14 months later, a federal judge has yet to hold a formal plea hearing or approve the settlement.

That could soon change. U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands has ordered a teleconference with ConAgra attorneys and prosecutors on Thursday to schedule a plea date. Prosecutors told the judge in a legal filing July 29 both sides are ready to proceed after a year spent reaching out to possible victims so they could file claims for financial restitution.

“These criminal cases resonate across the world in food safety and I’m certainly an advocate of continuing to do this,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle-based attorney who specializes in food safety and represented 2,000 clients in civil suits against ConAgra after the Peter Pan outbreak. “But I think a little more prompt justice is called for. Something that goes on for a decade doesn’t necessarily make the most sense.”

ConAgra officials blamed moisture from a leaky roof and a malfunctioning sprinkler system at the Georgia plant for helping salmonella bacteria grow on raw peanuts. The company it spent $275 million on upgrades and adopted new testing procedures. No deaths were reported from the outbreak in 2007.

Eight years later, no executives or employees were charged when the Justice Department announced its plea agreement with ConAgra. The company agreed to pay $8 million in criminal fines, which the Justice Department called the highest criminal fine ever in a food investigation, plus $3.2 million in forfeitures to the federal government.

The deal won’t be final until a formal plea gets entered in court and a judge accepts the sentence agreement. It’s not clear why it took so long to bring criminal charges. The Justice Department has said only that it was a complicated case involving a very large company.

ConAgra’s final tab could get larger if the judge orders payment of additional cash as restitution to victims. Federal prosecutors said in a July 29 legal filing they received more than 190 responses from potential victims after a year of outreach efforts.

However, some of those people may have already received checks. Prosecutors told the judge last year ConAgra paid out $36 million in civil settlements related to the outbreak.

ConAgra spokesman Dan Hare declined further comment on the case. In a statement last year when the plea deal was announced, the company said it didn’t know its peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella before it was shipped.


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