Former Blue Bell Creameries CEO charged in deadly Kansas listeria case

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Authorities say the former president of Blue Bell Creameries has been charged with wire fraud for allegedly trying to cover up a 2015 listeria outbreak linked to the company’s ice cream that killed three people in Kansas and sickened several others.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that a federal grand jury in Austin, Texas, returned a seven-count indictment charging Kruse with six counts of wire fraud and one count to commit wire fraud.

This comes a little more than three months after a judge threw out previous charges against Kruse because prosecutors didn’t present them to a grand jury.

Kruse’s lawyer says the charges are unfounded and that he’ll argue they were brought after the statute of limitations had expired.

Case Timeline

February 2015 – The indictment said Blue Bell was notified of two products from its Brenham, Texas, factory tested positive for Listeria.

March 13, 2015 – FDA, CDC and Blue Bell issue a public recall, according to the DOJ.

March 23, 2015 – A product made at another facility tested positive. A second recall was issued.

April 2015 – More positive tests led Blue Bell to recall all ice cream products, the DOJ said. Blue Bell closed its facilities to clean and update them.

May 2020 – The DOJ said Blue Bell pleaded guilty in a related case to two counts of distributing adulterated food products in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Sept. 17, 2020 – Court ordered Blue Bell to pay $17.25 million. The company was ordered to pay an additional $2.1 million to resolve civil False Claims Act allegations, according to the DOJ.

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