Attorneys defending former Blue Bell Creameries boss Paul Kruse have dropped concerns that the coronavirus pandemic may have tainted the grand jury who indicted their client.
Chris Flood of Houston and John D. Cline of San Francisco filed a motion to disclose the selection protocols to the grand jury on November 23, a jury plan for selecting the grand jury that indicted him (Kruse). “
“Information provided by the government has now allayed these concerns,” said a December 10 defense motion. before the pandemic began to affect court operations and that no large jurors were replaced after the grand jury was installed in February 2020. “
Based on this information, Flood and Cline have asked Federal Judge Robert Pitman to allow them either to withdraw their November 23 motion on behalf of Kruse or, alternatively, simply to reject the motion as in dispute.
The 66-year-old Kruse was charged with criminal conspiracy and fraud in a “true bill” issued by the grand jury on October 20th. The government first made the same charges as criminal information on May 1. That charge was dismissed on July 15 because Kruse would not waive his right to a grand jury trial.
Other pre-trial questions remain in Judge Pitman’s Western Texas District Court in Austin. Most importantly, the defense motion to dismiss all charges again, this time on the grounds that the 5-year statute of limitations has expired.
Blue Bell pleaded guilty in a similar case in May of two cases of sales of adulterated food in violation of federal food, drug and cosmetic law. It was agreed to pay criminal penalties totaling US $ 17.5 million and US $ 2.1 million in order to resolve allegations of the False Claims Act regarding ice cream products made under unsanitary conditions and sent to federal facilities , including the military, were sold.
The total of $ 19.35 million in fines, forfeitures and civil settlements was the second largest amount ever paid for solving a food safety issue.
The criminal charges concern Kruse’s role in the 2015 Listeria outbreak, which was the source of Blue Bell branded products. A total of 10 people with listeriosis related to the outbreak were reported from four states: Arizona had 1, Kansas 5, Oklahoma 1, and Texas 3. All sick people were hospitalized. Three deaths have been reported from Kansas.
On April 20, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries voluntarily recalled all products on the market at that time and manufactured in all facilities, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet and frozen snacks. In addition, manufacturing facilities in four states were closed.
The US Food and Drug Administration published the critical results of the latest inspections at Blue Bell’s manufacturing facilities on May 7, 2015.
Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. People at high risk of listeriosis include pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 and over, and people with a weakened immune system.
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