Archive for Monday, June 27, 2011

Second of Shawnee duo gets prison term in salsa poisoning

June 27, 2011

A Shawnee man whose plot to retaliate against his former employer poisoned four dozen customers at a Lenexa restaurant has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

Arnoldo Bazan, 32, admitted to hatching a scheme to put poison in salsa served to patrons in summer 2009 at Mi Ranchito restaurant in Lenexa. More than 40 diners at the restaurant reported suffering symptoms of the poison.

Bazan pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to tamper with a consumer product, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. In the plea, Bazan admitted he was angry after losing his job in June 2009 at the Mi Ranchito restaurant in Olathe. He said he believed the owner of the restaurant was responsible for him losing his job and his car being stolen.

Bazan and his wife, Yini De La Torre, who was a waitress at a Mi Ranchito restaurant in Lenexa, devised a scheme to get revenge by putting a pesticide into the salsa at the Lenexa Mi Ranchito. On two occasions, De La Torre put a Methomyl-based pesticide into the salsa. On Aug. 11, 2009, 12 patrons of Mi Ranchito suffered instant nausea, abdominal cramps, weakness, sweating and chest discomfort after consuming salsa. On Aug 30, 2009, 36 patrons of Mi Ranchito suffered similar or more severe symptoms after consuming salsa. Some were transported to the hospital.

The poisoned patrons ranged from young children to senior citizens, some with medical conditions aggravated by the poisoning.

De La Torre was sentenced earlier this year to 87 months and ordered to pay more than $478,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to the same charge.

“The defendant demonstrated blatant disregard for the health and welfare of the public,” said Patrick J. Holland, special agent in Charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals who tamper with food, drugs and other FDA regulated products.”

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