Blue Bell Creameries has agreed to pay over $19 million and plead guilty to charges that it shipped contaminated products linked to a 2015 listeriosis outbreak, and the company’s former president has been charged in connection with a scheme to cover up the incident.

Paul Kruse

This (Friday) afternoon, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the Brenham-based company agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products.  As per the plea agreement, Blue Bell will pay a fine and forfeiture totaling $17.25 million, along with an additional $2.1 million to resolve civil False Claims Act allegations regarding ice cream products manufactured under unsanitary conditions and sold to federal facilities.  The Department of Justice said that the total $19.35 million in fine, forfeiture, and civil settlement payments is the second largest-ever amount paid in resolution of a food safety matter.

Separately, former Blue Bell President and CEO Paul Kruse has been charged with six felony counts of Wire Fraud or Attempted Wire Fraud, along with one felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud.  The 17-page indictment was filed today with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in Travis County, alleging Kruse and other Blue Bell executives knew of unsanitary conditions at Blue Bell’s manufacturing facilities from as far back as 2010 and did nothing to stop them.

Kruse left his position as President and CEO of the company in February 2017, and left the board of directors in February 2019.  The charges he faces carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Blue Bell issued a statement this afternoon, saying since it restarted production in the summer of 2015, it tests ice cream products and delivers them to stores only after independent tests confirm they are safe.  The company said it has implemented upgraded production facilities, training, safety procedures, and environmental and product testing programs.  It also said it worked closely with federal and state regulators as it implemented comprehensive food safety measures.



    1. That seems very harsh to send someone to jail before they are even convicted! Are you willing to completely ignore the decades of good that Blue Bell and the Kruse family have done for our town and our area? I hope you will reconsider!

  1. An indictment does not equal guilt. I have known Paul since we were 5 yrs old..all of my life and he is a man of integrity. Time after time, over the years, I have seen him use the means that were at his disposal to benefit those in need, those who worked for Blue Bell and the community as a whole. He treats his fellowman with dignity and respect. There is no minimizing the tragic loss as a result of the contamination. Our hearts go out to all of those affected. I have full confidence that the truth and justice will prevail.

  2. Blue Bell and it’s employees have suffered enough already it’s time for this to be over once and for all

  3. Lets be clear, this is most certainly not a verdict, this is an indictment, which is basically a series of accusations. Mr. Kruse is innocent and must be proven guilty, just as everyone else is who is accused of a crime. If and when he were to be found guilty, then you can talk about a verdict

    I do in fact love Blue Bell. They make a fantastic product and have built a great company. The Kruse’s have personally and corporately given incredible amounts of money to our community and surrounding areas. They have provided jobs and benefits to thousands of people, and I for one admire them for who they are and what they have done for this area. Paul Kruse has been an instrumental part of the good works they have done for this area. While I do not know the Kruse family personally, the few times I have met them they have been very kind. I think our community should rally around this family right now showing support and praying for them.

  4. DOJ awaits end of statue limitations to file. Appears to be a cheap shot and personal. It has to be a heavy load with many variables for an executives decision process.

  5. After having read the 17 page indictment, as a lay person, some of those accusations seem like a real stretch. It is easy to accuse by much harder to prove. I guess we better all be careful that the emails we send are perfect and accurate in every way or the feds will be after us…..

    1. No one can top Hillary Clintons email & Server destroying & she’s running around FREE….Likely there will be others indicted from BlueBell days to come. I hope the Feds are not going after one Scapegoat but as the saying goes “go after the DEEPEST POCKET.” I agree we all need to be careful in email wordings. Our Brenham does not need another strike against us with the Pandemic deaths & add this. The News Media will be anchored here for a long time. Keep praying folks. We are living in very difficult times.

    2. If you read the indictment, which asserts that Blue Bell executives KNEW about that they had a problem with dangerous food contamination, ACTIVELY HID it from the public, and DID NOT immediately recall the product, and don’t have a problem with what Blue Bell is accused of doing, I don’t know what to say.

      Love Blue Bell.

      Expect much better from them.

  6. First off the town of Brenham is going way to out of hand. Yall are wrong for this way treating our Community this way yall disrespectful toward the businesses, yes yall need to be respectful of Covid 19 Situation. Some of yall mess with to much of disrespecting President Trump.

    1. Why are you blaming Brenham. No where does it say the city of Brenham or the people of Brenham are behind this indictment.

  7. Why are they just going after Paul? If other executives also knew and stayed silent I say charge them with the same . I sure hate to see this happen to Bluebell.

    1. I totally agree. He was not the only person that had knowledge of the contamination ice cream.

    2. Because he was in charge. Read the indictment and you will clearly see why they are going after him. I feel what he did and what he failed do is very much criminal in nature.

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