Food & Drinks

In Austin, Texas, the trial of the retired Blue Bell president adjourns for the weekend

The United States v Paul Kruse trial in Austin, TX, has adjourned for the weekend. It will continue at 8:30 a.m. Monday, when presumably the jury will resume deliberations.

The jury consists of 12 men and four women, including four alternates. Its task is to decide the guilt or innocence of the 67-year-old Kruse on conspiracy and fraud counts.

He is the retired president of Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, TX.

The Western District Court in Austin is conducting the trial, which began Aug.1 with jury selection. The Court warned jurors that the trial might last four weeks, but testimony only took about six days.

Federal Judge Robert Pitman Friday sequestered the jury deliberating for a third day over charges against the former boss of the iconic Blue Bell ice cream brand.

Pitman “ordered that the jury be sequestered during their deliberations from when they report to the jury room until released from the jury room each day and until released finally by the Court.”

The jury will continue its work for a possible third full day on Monday.

“While the jury is kept together and not allowed to separate, pursuant to this Order, the cost of subsistence of said jury, including the cost of coffee and other necessaries incurred by the said jury during Court recesses, shall be paid by the United States Government,” according to the judge’s order.

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Kruse was president of Blue Bell Creameries until 2017 and is being tried on federal felony charges of conspiracy and fraud for suppressing some information about a 2015 listeriosis outbreak. Ten people were sickened and three died.

The 10 confirmed patients were from four states – Arizona (1), Kansas (5), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (3) were infected and required hospitalization.

During a crisis for Blue Bell of more than 60 days in 2015, Kruse ultimately recalled all of his company’s products and closed all production facilities in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama.

But Kruse did not act fast enough for government prosecutors who said disclosures of the listeriosis problem were withheld from customers and the public for too long.

Through “retrospective review,” the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found isolates collected from Blue Bell ice cream that matched illnesses with onset dates from 2010 to 2014.

This Pulsenet data for DNA “fingerprints,” including three previous deaths in Kansas where listeriosis was a factor, showed all occurred before Blue Bell knew of the outbreak in early 2015.

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