Criminal Information Filed Against ConAgra Subsidiary
United States v. ConAgra Grocery Products LLC
Update – December 13, 2016:
On Dec. 13, 2016, ConAgra Grocery Products LLC, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods Inc., pled guilty to a criminal misdemeanor Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act charge alleging the shipment of peanut butter contaminated with salmonella. The contaminated Peter Pan and private label peanut butter, all of which was produced at the company’s plant in Sylvester, Georgia, was linked to a 2006-2007 nationwide outbreak of salmonellosis that sickened thousands of consumers, as described below (in the post dated May 20, 2015). Following entry of the guilty plea, Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands sentenced the company to pay an $8 million criminal fine and forfeit an additional $3.2 million in assets. The Court found that restitution was not authorized by law and could not be ordered in this case.
Update – October 6, 2016:
The Court has rescheduled the Change of Plea and Sentencing hearing from November 8, 2016, to December 13, 2016.
The hearing is now set for 9 a.m. on December 13, 2016, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands at the Federal Courthouse, 201 W. Broad Avenue, Albany, Georgia.
Update – September 27, 2016:
The Court has rescheduled the Change of Plea and Sentencing hearing in this case from October 27, 2016, to November 8, 2016.
The hearing is now set for 9 a.m. on November 8, 2016, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands at the Federal Courthouse, 201 W. Broad Avenue, Albany, Georgia.
Update – September 7, 2016:
The Court has scheduled a plea and sentencing hearing in this matter for 9 a.m. on October 27, 2016. The hearing will be held before Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands at the Federal Courthouse, 201 W. Broad Avenue, Albany, Georgia. If you are a victim of the charged offense and wish to speak at the hearing, please call the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 478-621-2705 well in advance of the scheduled hearing date. Because of the Court's schedule, hearing dates can change on very short notice. If you plan on attending, you may want to confirm the date and time have not changed.
If you previously sent information to the U.S. Attorney's Office regarding the impact of the charged offense, that information was provided to the U.S. Probation Office and the Court. Submitting such information does not mean the Court will order restitution be paid to you in this case. The Court will determine the sentence to be imposed, including any criminal fine or restitution.
Update – August 17, 2016:
The Court has scheduled a plea and sentencing hearing in this matter for 9 a.m. on October 27, 2016. The hearing will be held before Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands at the Federal Courthouse, 201 W. Broad Avenue, Albany, Georgia.
Update – November 23, 2015:
The plea hearing and sentencing hearing in this matter have not yet been scheduled. The Court may schedule these two hearings separately or may hold them on the same date. As noted below, the hearings will be held before Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands at the Federal Courthouse in Albany, Georgia.
The government is in the process of requesting additional information from victims who believe they may be entitled to restitution in this case. If you believe you may be entitled to restitution in this matter, you must complete a questionnaire (available here) and return it to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 300 Mulberry St., 4th Floor, Post Office Box 1702, Macon, GA 31202. Questionnaires and any supporting documentation must be received by January 2, 2016.
If you have any questions, please call Cathy Barnes, Victim-Witness Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, at 478-621-2634.
Original post – May 20, 2015:
Docket Number: 1:15-CR-24 (M.D. Georgia)
On May 20, 2015, the United States filed a criminal Information against ConAgra Grocery Products LLC, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods Inc., alleging that the company introduced peanut butter contaminated with salmonella into interstate commerce in 2006. The company agreed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act charge in a proposed plea agreement filed along with the Information. As part of the plea agreement, the company admitted that it shipped contaminated Peter Pan and private label peanut butter during a 2006-2007 nationwide outbreak of salmonellosis, or salmonella poisoning. The company also agreed to pay a criminal fine of $8 million and forfeit assets of $3.2 million.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first announced in February 2007 that an ongoing outbreak of salmonellosis cases in the United States could be traced to Peter Pan and private label peanut butter produced at the company's plant in Sylvester, Georgia. The company voluntarily terminated production at the plant on February 14, 2007, and recalled all peanut butter manufactured there since January 2004. The CDC eventually identified more than 700 cases of salmonellosis linked to the outbreak with illness onset dates beginning in August 2006. The CDC estimated that thousands of additional related cases went unreported. The CDC did not identify any deaths related to the outbreak.
The case was assigned to Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands in Albany, Georgia. Information regarding any upcoming court hearings or other significant developments in the case will be posted here, on this website.
Please be aware that victims of all crimes under federal investigation are entitled to services under the Victims' Rights and Restitution Act, including notification of court events. For further details, please refer to Title 42 United States Code section 10607 or the brochure posted at https://www.notify.usdoj.gov. Now that charges have been filed in federal court, victims of the charges filed are, in addition, entitled to the following rights, according to the Crime Victims' Rights Act, Title 18 United States Code section 3771: (1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused; (2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused; (3) The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding; (4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding; (5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case; (6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law; (7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and (8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
Please understand that these rights apply only to victims of the counts charged in federal court, and thus you may not be able to exercise all of these rights if the crime of which you are a victim was not charged. It is also important to keep in mind that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that presumption requires both the Court and our office to take certain steps to ensure that justice is served. While our office cannot act as your attorney or provide you with legal advice, you can seek the advice of an attorney with respect to the rights above or other related legal matters.
Additionally, please be aware that most criminal cases are resolved by a plea agreement between the government and the defendant. As noted above, in this case the defendant has agreed to plead guilty pursuant to such an agreement. If the court schedules a plea hearing in this case, the date and time of that hearing will be posted here. If you want to inform the prosecutor of your views regarding potential plea agreements, or any other aspect of the case, you can contact the Consumer Protection Branch at the Department of Justice at (202) 307-0066.
It is helpful for the Court to know the impact of this crime on its victims. If you believe you are a victim in this case and would like to provide a written statement regarding your experience, please forward it to:
United States Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Georgia
300 Mulberry St, 4th Floor
Post Office Box 1702
Macon, GA 31202
This is one way the Court can hear your concerns as they relate to the crime. Victim impact information is generally not public information; however, under criminal law and procedures, all information contained in your statement will be disclosed to the defendant and defense counsel.