Requests to put more time on the clock may not be over, but Pre-Sentence Investigation Reports (PSIRs) have now been filed for all five defendants convicted in the federal government’s case against Peanut Corporation of America, and some are under deadline for appeals. PSIRs are confidential documents prepared by Probation and Pretrial Services, a unit of the administrative office of the U.S. district courts. PSIRs provide the federal courts with a defendant’s history, including any previous criminal history or extenuating circumstances that might ameliorate the harshness of any sentence. blakelypcaplant09_406x250Defendants may appeal findings by the probation unit before sentencing, but that was called off last Jan. 8 when Judge W. Louis Sands issued an indefinite postponement on the PSIR challenges. With that action, the trial judge was accepting an opinion defense attorneys were voicing that sentencing was not going to occur anytime soon. This week, however, there were signs that the PSIR process was getting back on track and that sentencing might be getting closer for the defendants, two of whom pleaded guilty prior to trial and three of whom were tried by a jury that returned mostly guilty verdicts this past September. The PSIR for Stewart Parnell, former owner and top executive for the now-defunct PCA, was turned in by the probation office last Dec. 29. His deadline for appealing any of the findings was originally Jan. 12, but Sands agreed to the indefinite postponement before the deadline for Parnell, his brother Michael Parnell, and their co-defendant Mary Wilkerson. Later in the month, the probation office filed the draft PSIR for Samuel Lightsey, the former manager of PCA’s processing plant in Blakely, GA. Lightsey turned into a key witness for the government in last summer’s trial when he agreed to plead guilty to seven counts of the indictment in exchange for favorable consideration at sentencing. The deadline to appeal his PSIR was also indefinitely put off in January. The fifth defendant, Daniel Kilgore, first saw his PSIR on March 3, and his attorneys asked for an extension to April 9 of the original March 17 deadline for filing appeals. On Thursday, they both asked for another extension and also filed a formal objection to the original March 3 document. Kilgore, the former PCA operations manager at Blakely, reached a plea bargain before the others were indicted. He pleaded guilty to 29 federal felony counts, which were similar to those in the fraud and conspiracy indictment that totaled 76 counts. On Tuesday of this week, the PSIRs for both Mary Wilkerson and Michael Parnell were filed with the court, giving an April 21 deadline for objections. This means not only have all five PSIRs been completed, but the appeal clock is again running. Restarting the sentencing machinery might mean that Sands is close to ruling on the merits of various post-trial motions by the defense. Most significant may be a motion for a new trial filed by defense attorney Thomas J. Bondurant Jr. on behalf of the three defendants who were tried last year by an Albany, GA, jury. The Parnell brothers and Wilkerson are seeking a new trial in part on the notion that some jurors did their own research into the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak that led to the 76-count indictment. The Parnells have the most at stake. Stewart was convicted on 67 federal felony counts, and Michael on 30. Stewart is free on a secured $150,000 appearance bond, and Michael on a $100,000 instrument. Each could be looking at two decades or more of federal prison time. Wilkerson, charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, was found guilty on one count and acquitted on the other. She, Lightsey and Kilgore all remain free on unsecured appearance bonds. PCA’s Blakely, GA, peanut processing plant was determined to be the source of the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak that led to more than 700 confirmed illnesses and nine deaths. It also brought about the largest number of recalls for a single ingredient in U.S. history, involving almost 4,000 products by hundreds of individual companies that had the misfortune of buying peanut butter or peanut paste from PCA.