Daniel W. Kilgore, a one-time plant manager at the now defunct Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) processing plant at Blakely, GA, has been released from a federal prison in Oakdale, LA, to a half-way house in Atlanta.

It is not known whether his release has anything to do with the COVID-19 crisis at Oakdale prison where six inmates have succumbed to the virus. Attorney General William Barr has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to move some inmates to home confinement. Inmates who’ve served at least half their sentences for only non-violent crimes may get the home confinement option.

Kilgore, 51, also had his full released date moved up by 42 days to Dec. 19, 2020. Until then, he is in “pre-release” status with Residential Reentry Management (RRM), which manages re-entry housing for an estimated 7,000 inmates nearing their release dates from federal prisons.

Kilgore cut a deal in 2013 with federal prosecutors to avoid going to a jury trial in 2014 related to his responsibility in a multistate Salmonella outbreak blamed on the PCA peanut processing plant in Blakely. Kilgore was sentenced on Oct. 1, 2015, to six years at the low-security federal prison in Louisana in exchange for his testimony at that trial.

Samuel Lightsey, manager of the PCA Blakely plant at the time of the outbreak, also was a prosecution witness. He was released from federal prison after about two years.

Mary Wilkerson, the PCA quality control officer, was recently released after serving five years for obstruction of justice.

Kilgore, who was switched to operations manager when Lightsey took over the plant, will be on probation for three years after he leaves the halfway house.

After they agreed to plead guilty, Lightsey and Kilgore together spent about 10 days on the witness stand during the 35-day jury trial of brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell and Wilkerson that was tried in 2014.

Their testimony helped government prosecutors get many details entered as evidence that led to convictions of both Parnells and Wilkerson.

Stewart Parnell, former chief executive of PCA, is five years into a 28-year sentence at Hazelton federal correctional facility in West Virginia. Former peanut broker Michael Parnell has served 5 years of a 20-year sentence at the low security federal correctional facility at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

The Salmonella outbreak in late 2008 and early 2009 involving PCA peanut products was one of the most deadly in modern U.S. history, with three deaths reported in Minnesota, two in Ohio, two in Virginia, and one each in both Idaho and North Carolina.

The jury convicted the Parnell brothers of numerous federal felonies, including multiple counts of knowingly putting adulterated food into the marketplace.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 714 confirmed cases in 46 states, but the unreported cases likely topped 22,000. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the recall of PCA related peanut products by almost 400 companies was likely the largest of its kind in history.

Federal indictments in the PCA criminal case came in 2013 after four years of investigation by federal agents from both the FBI and FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

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