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Case dismissed against former Blue Bell CEO

Case dismissed against former Blue Bell CEO

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Charges against former Blue Bell Creameries president and CEO Paul Kruse were dropped earlier this week by a U.S. district judge, documents show.

Kruse’ Houston-based attorney, Chris Flood, states in a press release that his client’s case was dismissed due to a “lack of jurisdiction.”

“We believe any additional attempts to charge Mr. Kruse will be untimely,” Flood wrote. “Hopefully, the federal government can reallocate their resources to more pressing matters during these trying times.”

Flood provided The Eagle with the case’s motion to dismiss and the order of dismissal. The motion to dismiss, filed on June 16, argues that “the Fifth Circuit has declared repeatedly that a district court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over felony charges, unless there is either an indictment or an information accompanied by a waiver of the right to indictment.” It goes on to explain that records hold no indictment against Kruse or a waiver of indictment; thus, constitutionally, federal courts do not have the right to oversee this case.

The order of dismissal document for the United States versus Paul Kruse was signed Wednesday by Judge Robert Pitman of the Western district of Texas — Austin Division, confirming the dismissal was granted on the grounds of “lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.”

A Reuters report explains that Kruse did not waive his right to be indicted on a grand jury, and federal prosecutors did not pursue assembling a jury due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

“[Prosecutors] argued that dismissing the case now would trigger a six-month grace period to secure an indictment from a grand jury, even after the five-year statute of limitations to charge Kruse has expired — an assertion [Kruse’s] lawyers contest,” the article states.

An Eagle article from May notes that Kruse had been charged with one count of conspiracy and six counts of wire fraud and attempted wire fraud in relation to the 2015 listeria outbreak from Blue Bell products,

“According to the allegations filed against Kruse, he is accused of orchestrating a scheme to deceive certain Blue Bell customers after he learned that products from the company’s Texas factory tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes,” the article states. “According to an indictment, Kruse directed another Blue Bell quality employee to destroy hard copy and electronic records of two presumptive positive product test results. Blue Bell then shipped the products that tested positive without further testing, the indictment states.”

The Blue Bell company pled guilty May 13 to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products, according to the Texas Department of Justice website. The company will pay a criminal fine and forfeit over $17 million, in addition to more than $2 million that will be paid to resolve a civil case regarding False Claims Act allegations about the ice cream products as they were sold to military facilities.

The company is set to be sentenced by Pitman on Sept. 17.

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