Political Notes – Judge imposes more sentences in food poisoning case

[private]A federal judge in Albany handed down more prison sentences this week to Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) defendants involved in the massive peanut butter food poisoning conspiracy.

PCA’s former president, Stewart Parnell, was sentenced last week to 28 years in prison, which the Justice Department says was the longest criminal sentence ever imposed in a food safety case.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands sentenced these defendants Thursday:

Daniel Kilgore, 46, also a former operations manager at the Blakely plant, was sentenced to serve six years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Samuel Lightsey, 50, of Blakely, a former operations manager at PCA’s Blakely plant, was sentenced to serve three years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

They pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and the sale of misbranded and adulterated food. They also testified as witnesses in the 2014 trial of Stewart Parnell.

The case stemmed from the shipment of tainted peanut butter by PCA that resulted in a salmonella outbreak in 2009 with more than 700 reported cases of poisoning and nine deaths.

“By making sure that the individuals involved in the corporate fraud at PCA were held accountable, I am confident that the message to other executives is clear,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.

Charter schools close in midst of school year

A charter school that operates campuses in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, Ivy Prep Academies, is shutting down its high school classes this month, which will leave an estimated 90 students in the position of having to find other schools barely two months into the academic year.

The charter school said it shut down the high school portion of its operation because of funding concerns.

Ironically, the new executive director of Ivy Prep is Alisha Thomas Morgan, a former House member from Cobb County and an unsuccessful candidate for state school superintendent last year.

Morgan voted for the constitutional amendment in 2012 to establish a state charter school commission that would authorize the creation of charter schools that had been turned down by local school boards.

Morgan campaigned extensively for voter approval of the charter school commission, which passed, and participated in several media events where Ivy Prep students were featured as examples of why the state needed to create a charter school commission.

Consumer champion awards

Georgia Watch presented “Consumer Champion” awards this week to five legislators and advocates for their involvement in several consumer causes.

The winners include state Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) for her opposition to legislation that would have authorized predatory debt settlement procedures; Dr. Harry Heiman for his support of Medicaid expansion; Joanne Mathis and Vicki Johnson for their work in drafting HB 72, which provides additional protections for senior citizens; and the late Rep. Harry Geisinger for his legislative work on energy issues.

Personnel notes

Colin Martin, who challenged and lost to Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson in the 2014 elections, has been hired by U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Sharpsburg) as the field representative in the Third Congressional District.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: charter schools , consumer awards , food poisoning , Georgia Watch , Ivy Prep , Peanut Corporation of America