Former Blue Bell CEO Gets Mistrial

Aug. 15, 2022
The federal trial of a former CEO of Blue Bell Creameries in connection with a listeria poisoning case ended in a hung jury on Aug. 15.

The federal trial of a former CEO of Blue Bell Creameries in connection with a listeria poisoning case ended in a hung jury on Aug. 15.

A mistrial was declared for Paul Kruse, who had headed Blue Bell in 2015 when a listeria outbreak in its products was linked to three deaths and 10 illnesses. Kruse was charged with seven federal counts of wire fraud and conspiracy for allegedly suppressing reports of listeria contamination in Blue Bell products.

Prosecutors told the jurors that Kruse committed fraud because he didn’t want trade customers and consumers to know about the problems with his company’s products, even as they were being pulled from store freezers. His lawyers countered that consumers had been offered refunds for ice cream that had been recalled, and that Kruse was “cautious” about giving out information because he didn’t want to cause “listeria hysteria.”

Prosecutors did not immediately say whether they plan to retry Kruse. Blue Bell has already paid a $19.35 million fine, the second-largest in history in a contamination case.

In a statement quoted in the Austin Statesman-American, Blue Bell washed its hands of Kruse: "Paul Kruse’s trial involves events that took place more than seven years ago, and we are a different and better Blue Bell today."

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