Man Who Planted Razor Blades in Pizza Dough Gets 5 Years in Prison

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No 1 was reported injured, but prosecutors accidental that the callback prompted by Nicholas Mitchell’s tampering resulted successful astir $230,000 successful losses to a Maine-based supermarket chain.

Nicholas Mitchell pleaded blameworthy  to tampering with pizza dough astatine  a Hannaford supermarket successful  Saco, Maine, past  year.
Credit...NECN

Neil Vigdor

Dec. 2, 2021Updated 6:22 p.m. ET

A New Hampshire antheral was sentenced connected Thursday to astir 5 years successful situation aft admitting that helium planted razor blades successful pizza dough being sold astatine a supermarket successful Maine, prompting a callback by the concatenation successful 5 states, according to tribunal records.

The man, Nicholas Mitchell, pleaded blameworthy successful June to tampering with the dough astatine a Hannaford supermarket successful Saco, Maine, connected Oct. 5, 2020, national prosecutors said.

Four months earlier, according to investigators, Mr. Mitchell was fired from his occupation astatine It’ll Be Pizza, a dough shaper that supplies Hannaford stores arsenic good arsenic the tiny pizzeria concatenation Portland Pie Company.

Security camera videos showed Mr. Mitchell, 39, of Dover, N.H., tampering with dough from Portland Pie Company successful a refrigerator lawsuit and leaving the supermarket without making a purchase, the authorities said. Saco is astir 20 miles southwest of Portland, Maine.

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Credit...Dover Police Department, via Associated Press

No 1 was reported injured, but prosecutors said that 3 customers and a store worker discovered razor blades successful the dough.

As a effect of the tampering, Hannaford removed each Portland Pie caller dough and food products from its stores. It besides issued a recall, extending to each 183 Hannaford stores astatine the clip successful Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts, according to the chain.

In summation to a 57-month sentence, Mr. Mitchell was ordered connected Thursday to wage astir $230,000 successful restitution to the supermarket chain.

Mr. Mitchell gave a tearful apology during his sentencing by videoconference connected Thursday successful Federal District Court successful Portland, The Portland Press Herald reported.

“I deliberation it’s precise important to clarify present that my intentions were ne'er to harm anybody, lone to disrupt my erstwhile employer’s bottommost line,” Mr. Mitchell said, according to the newspaper.

David Beneman, a lawyer for Mr. Mitchell, declined to remark connected Thursday.

The court’s main judge, Jon D. Levy, said that it was a substance of accidental that nary 1 was injured by Mr. Mitchell’s actions, The Press Herald reported.

“This condemnation has to nonstop a steadfast connection that anyone who is going to prosecute successful behaviour similar this volition walk a important clip successful national prison, and to nonstop a connection of deterrence to Mr. Mitchell that nine volition not tolerate him blowing up similar this,” Judge Levy said, according to the newspaper.

Under the presumption of his sentence, Mr. Mitchell volition beryllium required to wage Hannaford astir $191,000 successful restitution for pizza dough and astir $35,000 for pizza made successful its stores, arsenic good arsenic $4,000 for labor. From October 2020 to November 2020, dough income plummeted by 82 percent, portion in-store pizza income fell by 89 percent, according to tribunal records.

Hannaford, which is based successful Scarborough, Maine, said successful a connection connected Thursday that it appreciated the enactment of instrumentality enforcement investigators.

“While we are thankful that nary injuries occurred due to the fact that of Mr. Mitchell’s actions, the condemnation appropriately reflects the severity of the transgression of introducing a hazard into food,” the concatenation said. “This judgement should service arsenic a deterrent to immoderate idiosyncratic from putting nationalist information astatine risk.”

A income manager astatine It’ll Be Pizza, which is besides based successful Scarborough, said connected Thursday that helium was not authorized to comment.

A idiosyncratic who answered the telephone astatine Portland Pie Company hung up connected Thursday erstwhile asked whether idiosyncratic was disposable to comment.

In a sentencing memo, Mr. Beneman said that Mr. Mitchell had struggled with intelligence wellness and substance maltreatment problems for overmuch of his life. When the coronavirus pandemic began aboriginal past year, the lawyer said, Mr. Mitchell went into a downward spiral.

In April 2020, helium was arrested connected charges of home unit and probation violation, and helium began surviving successful his car, according to the memo, which said that Mr. Mitchell was fired from It’ll Be Pizza successful June 2020 for being precocious to enactment and for his absences.

Mr. Mitchell has been successful custody since his apprehension successful October 2020 and precocious contracted the coronavirus, Mr. Beneman said successful the memo.

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