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HomeUncategorizedBlue Bell president 'Ricky' Dixon testifies against his 'friend' as government witness

Blue Bell president 'Ricky' Dixon testifies against his 'friend' as government witness

AUSTIN — Richard S. “Ricky” Dickson, the current president of Blue Bell Creameries, testified Wednesday as a government witness against his former and former mentor, Paul Kruse.

Dickson took over in 2017 at Kruse in Brenham, Texas, best known for its flagship Blue Bell ice cream.

He testified on the third day of Kruse’s jury trial on conspiracy and fraud charges over the deadly 2015 listeriosis outbreak. Three people died in the outbreak and at least 10 became ill.

During the outbreak, Blue Bell closed manufacturing facilities and recalled all products, Dixon is vice president of sales, second

defense attorney in Houston Asked by Chris Flood, Dixon admitted he was the subject of a “targeted” investigation by the federal Justice Department that began in 2019, two years after he became president of the Blue Bell.

He then secured a private attorney and entered into a “non-prosecution agreement” with the Justice Department that included at least one meeting in Washington, D.C. He said “speaking the truth” was his only obligation under the agreement.

Dixon is a Blue Bell veteran who held top positions in sales and production for over 40 years before moving into the top management.

Dickson served as vice president of sales for the more than 60 days cited in the indictment.

His testimony on Wednesday consisted mostly of information claiming that Cruise and Cruise alone determined Bluebell during the outbreak. Blue Bell’s outbreak crisis began on February 13, 2015, when two of its 10 products tested positive Listeria by Food Labs in South Carolina.

These products are produced on a so-called gram machine in Brenham, Texas, which is separate from primary ice cream production. Dixon claimed he wanted an immediate recall, but Cruise opted to “withdraw” products that tested positive, eventually extending to all products made on Gram’s machines.

Dixon said he agreed: “This is brand new to me.”

In testimony late Wednesday, Kruse did tell the FDA’s The Reportable Food Registry reported the South Carolina findings and has likely cooperated with federal regulators since then.

Kruse dispatched 1,500 Blue Bell drivers/salespeople to pick up suspicious A plan for the product may be shared with FDA at least in advance.

Dickson says he still considers Kruse a friend, and he admits that he helped Dickson complete his undergraduate studies at Blue Bell while Kruse was a law student.

Dickson, president of Blue Bell, expanded the company’s reach and sales as well as the flavors it offered.

However, he is probably best known for tackling corporate criminal issues with the federal government.

According to Dixon, the company agreed to pay criminal fines totaling $17.5 million and $2.1 million in settlement of allegations that it was produced in unsanitary conditions and sold to federal agencies, including the military False Claims Act charges for ice cream products.

$19.35 million in fines, forfeitures and civil settlements was the second largest amount to address food safety issues.

Prosecutors called school district, hospital and restaurant staff for Blue Bell clients in 2015 who were not satisfied with the explanation for the withdrawal of the program. Most were told of a “machine problem” or quality issue, but nothing about the Listeria investigation.

Witnesses said no patients, students or customers became ill, but experiences led them to stop buying Blue Bell products.

The jury trial will complete its first week on Friday. The trial judge has warned the jury to plan for at least another two weeks.

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