I have developed a lasting friendship with many of Stewart Parnell’s victims of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) Salmonella outbreak of 2008-2009. Many of the victims were my clients, including families of those who died. I watched in awe as several of the victims or family members testified before Congress (see all emails, documents and Congressional testimony). Many of them attended a press conference in 2011 where they asked why, after two years, Parnell was still free? All were pleased in 2013 when Stewart Parnell, former chief executive; Michael Parnell, former vice president and peanut broker; Mary Wilkerson, former quality control manager; Sam Lightsey, former plant manager, and Daniel Kilgore, former operations manager, were charged with multiple counts of 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. The five were charged after a four-year FBI investigation following the 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 700 people and killed nine. The pathogen was sourced back to the peanut butters and paste produced by the Lynchburg, VA-based PCA at processing plants in Blakely, GA, and Plainview, TX. Under Section 402(a)(4) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, felony violations include adulterating or misbranding a food, drug, or device, and putting an adulterated or misbranded food, drug, or device into interstate commerce. Any person who commits a prohibited act violates the FDCA. A person committing a prohibited act “with the intent to defraud or mislead” is guilty of a felony punishable by years in jail and a substantial fine, or both.  These five defendants face jail time that could put them behind bars for the rest of their lives and fines that would bankrupt many businesses and most people. I was pleased when Food Safety News broke the story early this morning that Sam Lightsey would likely be changing his plea from not guilty to guilty. He would join Daniel Kilgore, who pleaded guilty at the time the others were indicted. Kilgore’s and Lightsey’s sentencing will likely be held off until the other cases are completed. Trial for the other three is scheduled for this summer. I am thankful to the U.S. Attorneys for taking on the PCA felony case and for being more aggressive in prosecuting even misdemeanor cases under the FDCA. A misdemeanor conviction under the FDCA, unlike a felony conviction, does not require proof of fraudulent intent, or even of knowing or willful conduct. Rather, a person may be convicted if he or she held a position of responsibility or authority in a firm such that the person could have prevented the violation. Convictions under the misdemeanor provisions are punishable by not more than one year in jail or a fine of not more than $250,000, or both. As the Jensen brothers learned in the wake of the 2011 Listeria cantaloupe outbreak that sickened 147 and killed more than 30, and that Jack DeCoster will soon learn following a 2010 Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands and forced the recall of more than 500,000,000 eggs, U.S. Attorneys are being more aggressive against people who poison their customers — even if done without intent. Even the folks at Foster Farms have the attention of the U.S. Attorneys for its Salmonella outbreaks of 2012 and 2013. Business owners, and those in authority at food manufacturing facilities, be forewarned — you can go to jail if you ship tainted food into interstate commerce — knowingly or not. Things have become a bit hotter in the kitchen.