AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Former Blue Bell President and CEO Paul Kruse has been charged with conspiracy for the company’s handling for the listeria outbreak in 2015, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.READ MORE: Alleged Dog Complaint Ends With 2 Sheriff's Deputies Killed In Texas Town
Paul Kruse and other executives are said to have known about unsanitary conditions at the company’s Brenham headquarters and did nothing to stop them, according to a 17-page indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Travis County.
Kruse, who retired in February 2017, participated in a conspiracy to conceal “potential and/or confirmed listeria contamination in Blue Bell products from certain Blue Bell customers,” according to federal prosecutors.READ MORE: 'This Isn't Humane', Texas Farmer Finds 5 Migrant Girls, 1 Unclothed, Hungry, Crying Abandoned At Southern Border
Kruse is charged with wire fraud/attempted wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Those charges each hold a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
According to the federal charges, the goal “was to obtain money from Blue Bell’s customers by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”MORE NEWS: 10-Year-Old Diego Velasquez Recovering After Cars Hit Him While Out Buying Mother’s Day Gift
The company suffered significant financial losses due to the listeria outbreak.