Daniel W. Kilgore, operations manager for Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) from June 2002 to May 2008 at Blakely, GA, is now testifying in the federal criminal trial in Albany, GA. He is likely to go down as the government’s star witness against the trio of former PCA managers, who today are in the 23rd day of the trial being held in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. Four days before federal prosecutors dropped a 76-count felony indictment on four other PCA managers, Kilgore stuck a secret deal with the government that saw him plead guilty to 29 counts contained in the indictment in exchange for the promise that his prison time will be limited to 12 years or less. Kilgore took the witness stand at 9:02 a.m. on Tuesday, undergoing direct examination from Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. It’s uncertain how long it will be before the three sets of defense attorneys get their opportunity for cross-examination. It took prosecutors the better part of six days to draw all the direct examination they wanted out of Samuel Lightsey, the former Blakely plant manager, who also reached a plea deal with the government last May. With Kilgore on the stand, prosecutors have the opportunity to draw out testimony that will confirm Lightsey’s testimony. Kilgore is also able to testify on specific transactions with specific customers. He pleaded guilty to specific instances of mail and wire fraud, and his knowledge of those instances could be critical. Lightsey’s plea deal caps his potential prison time at six years. In both cases, the sentences are based on guidelines and could be more or less severe. Defense attorneys were quick to point out that Lightsey had every reason to do the most with his testimony to help the government, and they are certain to raise the same point with Kilgore. Since Lightsey finally ended his testimony a week ago, prosecutors have been calling up a string of witnesses for mostly short bits of testimony. More than a dozen witnesses testified between Lightsey and Kilgore. Three former executives associated with PCA have pleaded not guilty. They are the ones on trial, including former owner Stewart Parnell, his peanut broker brother, Michael Parnell, and Mary Wilkerson, former quality control manager for the Blakely plant. The trio is charged with a total of 71 felony counts, including fraud and conspiracy, obstruction of justice and placing misbranded and adulterated peanut butter into interstate commerce. The charges followed a four-year federal investigation into the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 700 people and killed nine.