No Nut: Peanut Company President Parnell Takes the Fifth Before Congress

thumb_peanuts1Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell has invoked his privilege against self-incrimination to refuse testimony before Congress. It was the smart move. Parnell is in the same position as Roger Clemens and other baseball players accused in the steroid scandal. The most likely charge that they faced was not from the original allegations but their testimony before Congress, the grand jury, or statements to investigators.

After he invoked, Parnell was excused from the hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The case against Parnell and his family is building, including emails that reportedly show that Parnell ordered known salmonella tainted products to be sold. The emails portray Parnell as concerned only about delay and loss of money rather than the health of his customers. In one emails, Parnell allegedly complains that the tests were “costing us huge $$$$$.”

After the outbreak, Parnell reportedly told Food and Drug Administration officials that the company “desperately at least need to turn the raw peanuts on our floor into money.”

In major scandals of this kind, it is often how you respond to the allegations that results in the actual criminal charges. Members of Congress and the FBI know that business people and celebrities are eager to “clear their names” or try to manage a scandal. What is remarkable is how many many fall into this trap as shown by Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and others.

Parnell may already be in difficulty over statements made to investigators. False statements made to federal investigators can be charged as a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. In an email to employees at least, Parnell seemed less than candid, stating “No salmonella has been found anywhere else in our products, or in our plants, or in any unopened containers of our product.”

One of the jobs of Parnell’s lawyers is to explain to him that his company is history as is his reputation and much of wealth. The only question is his liberty at this point.

For the full story, click here.

14 thoughts on “No Nut: Peanut Company President Parnell Takes the Fifth Before Congress”

  1. Mike A.,

    Well played, sir. Mammon is in the house! Boy, is Jesus going to be pissed if/when he returns . . .

  2. Amen Brother Mike A.,

    Although it is certainly interesting that unbridled free markets don’t apply when elites lose money on their investments or when they are writing the laws for Congress in the first place.

  3. Mike S. and mespo, you are quite right. Mr. Parnell is a perfect illustration of the fallacy underlying the claims of laissez-faire purists. It is amazing that those who continue to clamor for an end to governmental involvement in, or oversight of, commercial relations ignore history. Reagan was hardly a thinker. He simply believed that the people with whom he kept company were wise and just because they were rich and powerful. The social sciences took a back seat to Republican economic theories during the past thirty years, aided I believe in large part by the ascendancy of fundamentalist clergy who have indoctrinated large portions of the population with “prosperity” theology, the bastard child of religion and materialism which treats the accumulation of wealth as the divinity’s reward for virtuous living. Hence unbridled free-market capitalism has become the new religion and Wall Street its temple.

  4. Mespo,
    Read the link. The sad thing is that Parnell is all too clearly one of many of today’s executive class. Business “Uber Alles” is the clarion call to profits in today’s marketplace.
    The sad result of Reaganism’s ascendancy among the chattering classes.

  5. For those, not those commenting above, who believe that a free market is self-regulating I offer you this story. The industrial historical record in US (and World) history is replete with stories like this and the death and disablement that followed in their wake. The mandate for a business is to make profit. Too often those running businesses in the hastiness of their greed, neglect to think out their actions to their logical conclusions.
    Certainly a company that delivers value and service to its customers will make out better in the long run. Unfortunately,
    most MBA programs, including those in the Ivy League taught a different lesson. To wit: Get it while you can. Let’s hope that Mr. Parnell gets it in the end at some federal prison facility.

    Good catch Mespo on that Falwell/Lynchburg thing, this story reeks of the “holiness” that clown exuded.

  6. Here’s a little story from the local Lynchburg newspaper about the PCA owner’s daughter asking for understanding. Note her married name:

    “In an interview Thursday, Beth Falwell, the sister of PCA President Stewart Parnell and daughter of PCA’s founder, vigorously defended the company, saying the FDA’s report was flawed and “exaggerated.”

    Falwell denied that company engaged in “lab shopping” and insisted that company officials would never knowingly distribute contaminated products. Major customers, including Kellogg’s Co., routinely send their own inspectors to PCA’s plants, she said, and those companies would not have continued to do business with PCA if they had found major problems.

    Acknowledging that the FDA may have found roaches at the Blakely plant, she added, “It’s a food manufacturing plant, you know? I’m saying it’s exaggerated.”

    Let’s see a person named Falwell from Lynchburg, Virginia makes statements deflecting criticism for persons charged (or about to be)with federal crimes. Where have I heard this before? Jimmy and Tammy Faye where have you gone?

  7. The other lesson we should have learned, is that the regulations and the authority of the FDA needs to be changed, so that the FDA clearly has the power to FORCE a recall of tainted food and drugs, rather than requesting a processor to do the right thing.

  8. Stewart Parnell had already established himself as greedy and avaricious, yesterday just established that he is a coward. Justice for Stewart will be an extended stay in the penitentiary, where he can enjoy a diet supplied by Peanut Corp. of America food products.

  9. Stewart Parnell, there is no way to adequately express how truly screwed you are, but I’ll try . . .

    Can you say felony murder, Stewie?

    Hey, on the bright side, you probably won’t get peanut butter, but that green bologna won’t be doing you any favors either, sport. You are an evil venal scumbag. $$$$$? Yeah . . . this is EXACTLY why fascism fails long term.

    Enjoy being imprisoned and penniless. You’ve got it coming and then some. The number one requirement for peace is that people be fed, not poisoned. Thanks for helping bring about the end of the world so you could make “huge $$$$$.” You’ve changing as We the People watch from being a figurative tool, to a being a literal tool – a teaching tool. So maybe it’s not all bad news. You do have some small degree of utility in educating people to exactly what fascism is – sociopathic behavior.

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