Final docket hearing called for July 22, just ahead of jury trial of former Blue Bell president

Pau Kruse, the retired 67-year-old former president of Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, TX, is ordered to appear in federal court in Austin on July 22.

Federal Judge Robert Pitman has set the Final Docket Call and Hearing date for all pending motions before the Aug. 1 jury trial. 

A Texas jury will determine if Kruse is guilty or innocent of fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from his actions during a 2015 outbreak of Listeria infections and deaths.

Judge Pitman will decide on pending pre-trial motions during the July 22 hearing.   

The Kruse defense team, Chris Flood of Houston and John Cline of Seattle, have filed motions to strike parts of the criminal indictment. They want to shrink the indictment’s narrative by eliminating some parts not directly connected to the charges. This includes discussing sanitation issues and mentioning any obligation Kruse had to disclose information to Blue Bell customers.

The government attorneys assigned to prosecute Kruse also have pre-trial motions before the Court.

The United States seeks orders regarding the following:

  • Prohibiting counsel from admitting, discussing, or eliciting testimony about the unimplemented Critical Information, Grocery Store Notification, and Consumer Notification provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, unless and until the defendant testifies that he relied upon them; and
  • Prohibiting counsel from admitting, discussing, or eliciting testimony about the 2008 FDA draft guidance on controlling Listeria monocytogenes (“L. mono”) in refrigerated and frozen ready-to-eat foods unless and until the defendant testifies that he relied on it.

The Brenham, TX, resident is accused of one count of conspiracy and six counts of fraud for actions he took during the 2015 listeriosis outbreak when he was president of Blue Bell Creameries.

Kruse issued the first recall in the company’s century-long history and suspended all production for several weeks. In the four-state outbreak, there were three deaths among 10 illnesses. All ten patients were hospitalized.

A federal Grand Jury indicted Kruse in 2020 after a five-year investigation.

The Austin-based federal Western District Court for Texas “finds the United States v. Kruse a complex criminal case.” 

As a corporate entity, Blue Bell pleaded guilty in a related case in 2020 to two counts of distributing adulterated food products in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The company agreed to pay criminal penalties totaling $17.5 million and $2,1 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations regarding ice cream products manufactured under unsanitary conditions and sold to federal facilities, including the military. The total $19.35 million in fines, forfeiture, and civil settlement payments was the second-largest amount ever paid in resolving a food safety matter.

Kruse is the only individual facing criminal charges due to the 2015 outbreak.

Blue Bell Creameries, founded in 1907 in Brenham, TX, today produces Blue Bell ice cream, an iconic Texan brand.

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