ATLANTA — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.
A federal indictment unsealed in February 2013 brought charges against the head of Peanut Corporation of America and several others stemming from the outbreak tied to peanuts processed by the company. It was an unusual move by the federal government, which rarely prosecutes companies in food poisoning cases.
Federal investigators found filthy conditions at the company’s Georgia plant and said the employees even fabricated certificates saying peanut product shipments were safe when tests said otherwise.
Company owner Stewart Parnell invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before a congressional committee in February 2009. Emails obtained by congressional investigators showed that he once directed employees to “turn them loose” after samples of peanuts tested positive for salmonella and then were cleared in another test.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 714 people in 46 states were infected between September 2008 and March 2009.
Phila. hospital shooting
PHILADELPHIA — A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder. Richard Plotts was arraigned late Saturday at his hospital bedside after emerging from sedation.
Mr. Plotts, 49, was ranting about Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital’s gun ban Thursday before he shot 53-year-old caseworker Theresa Hunt during an appointment, authorities said. Psychiatrist Lee Silverman crouched behind a chair and pulled out his own gun, firing several shots at Mr. Plotts, authorities said.
Mr. Plotts had 39 unspent bullets on him when he was wrestled to the ground.
Lightning strike kills 1
LOS ANGELES — One man died and at least eight people were injured on Sunday in a lightning strike during a rare thunderstorm at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, officials said.
Victims were apparently in the water or very close to it when the lightning struck. The eight survivors were hospitalized for treatment and observation after the lightning hit near Ocean Front Walk facing the Pacific Ocean.
A 20-year-old man taken to Marina Del Rey Hospital was later pronounced dead.
Spider-Man fights police
NEW YORK — Spider-Man punched a police officer in the face over the weekend in Times Square while resisting arrest, the police said, the latest episode of children-friendly characters displaying R-rated behavior in front of stunned tourists in the heart of Manhattan.
The punch broke the officer’s glasses, the police said, and the struggle sent his police cap flying.
By Sunday, the Spider-Man had been unmasked as a 25-year-old Brooklyn man, Junior Bishop, and he was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
Also in the nation ...
The hunt for two Philadelphia carjackers who rammed a stolen SUV into a family, killing three children, entered its third day Sunday as officials offered a $110,000 reward for information leading to their capture. ... A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was cleared by the U.S. Coast Guard to unload its cargo at sea off Texas on Sunday as a State Department official signaled that Washington would not intervene to block delivery of the controversial crude.
— Compiled from news services