Government attorneys have roared back at the former quality control manager for a Blakely, GA, peanut processing plant who claims she was wrongly convicted of obstruction of justice. Mary Wilkerson wants a federal judge to grant her an acquittal for the crime a jury convicted her of last September. But U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys who successfully prosecuted her on one of two counts of obstruction of justice say that in her most recent post-trial requests, “Defendant Wilkerson reiterates many of the vague and baseless arguments she has repeated throughout her pre-trial and post-trial briefs.” blakelypcaplant09_406x250Wilkerson was convicted in the same trial that found former Peanut Company of America owner Stewart Parnell and his peanut broker brother Michael Parnell guilty of a total of 97 federal felony counts involving conspiracy and fraud. While convicted on the single count, the 41-year-old Wilkerson still has much at stake in the sentencing phase. Conviction for obstruction of justice, a federal felony, carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $100,000 fine., a federal sentencing guidelines calculator, suggests that Wilkerson may be looking at 21-27 months in prison and a $5,000-50,000 fine based on the specifics of her conviction. By the count of DOJ attorneys, federal Judge W. Louis Sands has already rejected at least 11 times Wilkerson’s motions to have her sole conviction set aside. The government’s response, which are the first public arguments it has made in the case this year, states that Wilkerson’s claims are “are time-barred and have already been adjudicated by the court.” Mary M. Englehart, one of two DOJ Consumer Protection Branch attorneys assigned to prosecute the PCA executives, says the deadline to file a new motion for acquittal ended long ago, 30 days after the trial was over, and that Wilkerson’s defense has not come up with any good reason for an exception to that deadline. Five executives associated with PCA’s operations were rounded up in the federal investigation into the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak that resulted in nine deaths and more than 700 illnesses around the country stemming from contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste made at the Blakely plant. Two of the five, plant manager Samuel Lightsey and operations manager Daniel Kilgore, pleaded guilty in exchange for their testimony, while the other three went to a nearly two-month federal jury trial in Albany, GA, which got underway in late July 2014. Separate from Wilkerson’s appeals, which mainly rest on whether the government adhered to the various rules on discovery, the trio of defendants tried and convicted by the jury are separately asking for acquittals or new trials based on a mix of motions. Almost all of those arguments and documents have been sealed, meaning they are being kept from public release. Because of the various appeals — thought to include everything from government attorneys invoking “food safety” in their closing arguments for convictions, to charges that some jurors did their own research on the deadly outbreak — none of the five defendants has yet been sentenced. In the government’s motion against Wilkerson’s separate request, DOJ attorneys noted that the trial was delayed by two weeks to give the defense more time to handle information it received late in the process. Also last week, the deadline for filing objections to Pre-sentencing Investigative Reports (PSIRs) for both Wilkerson and Michael Parnell passed without any challenges filed with the court. And Kilgore’s deadline for making any additions or amendments to his previously filed objection to his PSIR also passed without any new filings. Sands has not yet given Stewart Parnell and Lightsey a final deadline for their PSIR objections. The reports are used in sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled and probably won’t be until the judge rules on the trio’s motions for acquittals and/or new trials.