Six months into his indictment on multiple federal felony counts for his alleged role in criminal fraud and conspiracy involving contaminated peanut butter, Stewart Parnell had his head examined. And the resulting Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis means, according to his attorney, that “the tragic events at PCA (Peanut Corporation of America) were not the result of a complicated, concerted scheme, but rather the result of inept daily plant management and negligent employees.” In late August, Parnell went for a neuropsychological evaluation in which his wife of 40 years described him as driven, restless, fidgety, easily distracted, inattentive and prone to disregard anything he finds of little or no interest to him. Except for acknowledging that he avoids things that do not interest him, the 59-year-old Parnell denied those symptoms. However, his wife claims they have existed as long as she’s known him. The neuropsychological evaluation found Parnell “positive for the presence of a variant of developmental, residual fronto-dysexecutive disorder (e.g., ADHD, as it currently identified). “This condition involves inadequate arousal of the frontal lobes with particular inactivity in areas participating in the inhibition and intentional direction, control, planning, organization, and integration of mental and behavioral impulses, according to situational demands or changes,” writes Dr. Joseph C. Conley, Jr., Parnell’s clinical psychologist from Lynchburg, VA. “Both an inhibitory dysfunction and an executive dysfunction are involved in ADHD, according to the current conceptualizations,” Conley adds. “Currently at least two forms of this condition are recognized, i.e., the hyperactive type and the over-inhibited type. “ Conley’s confidential evaluation of Parnell’s mental condition is attached to a nine-page response to the government’s motion for a so-called “Daubert” hearing to determine whether the clinical psychologist should be allowed to testify in the forthcoming criminal trial of four former PCA executives. Under federal court rules, a “Daubert” hearing before a judge is for deciding if disputed expert testimony should be heard at trial. Defense attorney Thomas J. Bondurant, Jr., representing Parnell, says the court should deny the government’s requests for a “Daubert” hearing and for their own examination of his client. Conley’s testimony at trial, according to Bondurant’s response, “will establish that it is highly unlikely that Stewart Parnell would have read, much less appreciated, the potential import of communications that the government’s cases hinges upon.” “Indeed, Dr. Conley will establish the fact that Stewart Parnell’s ADHD is so severe that he likely never read many emails or comprehended the significance of an email or email chain within the context in which it was written or communicated,” Bondurant, himself a former federal prosecutor, added. He further stated, “In a similar vein, Dr. Conley’s evaluation and analysis of Stewart Parnell’s multi-tasking skills establishes the fact that Stewart Parnell likely never devoted attention to developing facts or issues that arose over a period of time at any one of the three companies he managed for the Peanut Corporation of American. The testimony of Dr. Conley will establish that Stewart Parnell never acquired the knowledge required to commit the crimes the government alleges.” The four former PCA executives are charged with a total of 76 federal felony counts, including conspiracy, introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, interstate shipments fraud, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice. All of the charges stem from a federal investigation that followed the 2008-2009 outbreak of deadly Salmonella Typhimurium that killed nine people and sickened 700 throughout the nation. The poisonings were traced back to peanut butter and peanut paste produced by PCA plants in Georgia and Texas. In addition to Stewart Parnell, who was chief executive of the now defunct PCA, the other defendants are his brother, Michael Parnell, the company’s peanut broker; Samuel Lightsey, the former manager of the Blakely, GA, plant, and Mary Wilkerson, who managed quality control. Stewart Parnell has already asked to have his trial separated from the others. In the latest court documents, it appears that part of his defense will be based on his inability after a lifetime in sales to keep up as a chief executive of a multi-state corporation. His attorney argues that Parnell “never factually acquired the knowledge necessary to form any intent about the actions alleged by the government.” Bondurant points to the government’s motion that says Parnell engaged in “outright lies and sophisticated schemes of deception.” Pre-trial motions before the court will be heard by Judge W. Louis Sands on Dec. 6. One trial for the four defendants remains scheduled for February.