Mary Wilkerson will begin her five years of imprisonment on Nov. 3 as the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday denied her motion for release while she appeals her conviction for obstruction of justice. The court’s one-line order merely denies Wilkerson’s motion filed Oct. 8, and it states that any request to have the denial reconsidered will be handled on a non-emergency basis. Wilkerson, former quality assurance manager for the Peanut Corporation of America’s plant in Blakely, GA, was sentenced Sept. 21 to five years in a federal woman’s prison for her part in the fraud and conspiracy case against former executives involved with PCA. Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands permitted Wilkerson to remain free on bond after sentencing until the U.S. Bureau of Prisons ordered her to report to a specific institution. On Oct. 8, the bureau told Wilkerson to report on Nov. 3. It is not yet publicly known where she will be going. Because of the deadline to report, Wilkerson’s attorney filed a “time-sensitive” motion for release while Wilkerson’s case is on appeal. Thomas G. Ledford, her Albany, GA, defense attorney, rehashed arguments that Sands had previously rejected about being overwhelmed by millions of documents before, during, and after the trial. Ledford claims that prevented him from giving his client an adequate defense. Thursday’s ruling apparently deals only with Wilkerson’s incarceration, not the substance of her appeal of both her conviction and sentence. PCA products were blamed for the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of people and killed nine of them. A jury convicted Wilkerson in September 2014 of obstructing the investigation of that outbreak by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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