The Associated Press reported that a man who tampered with pizza dough in the supermarket by putting razors and nails in the product was sentenced to five years in federal prison Thursday.
Customers in some Maine and New Hampshire stores bought and discovered hacked dough in 2020, sparking investigations and concern among their communities.
In an agreement with prosecutors, Nicholas Mitchell, 39, pleaded guilty in June to one of two counts of tampering with a consumer product, the Associated Press reported. One of these charges was dropped as part of a plea agreement, Foster Daily Democrat mentioned.
The Dover, New Hampshire, native was also ordered to pay nearly $230,000 in compensation to Hannaford Stores, which had been transporting and selling tainted pizza dough.
Prosecutors said three customers purchased the product at a Hannaford store in Saco, Maine. The pierced dough has also been found at sites in Sanford, Maine and Dover, according to the Associated Press.
Mitchell previously worked for the company that made the brand of dough he tampered with, but Saco police said in a post on Facebook social networking site The page where a review of surveillance footage indicated that the product had been tampered with within the store.
The discovery of the tamper prompted Hannaford to recall the brand’s dough and cheese products sold from all 184 of the chain’s stores across five states within a few months, Democrat mentioned.
Saco Police issued an arrest warrant for Mitchell after it was reported that the product had been tampered with. He was eventually arrested in October 2020 by a Dover police officer who was able to locate him at an address in New Hampshire, according to Democrat.
For more reports from the Associated Press, see below.
The sentencing hearing continued even though Mitchell was recovering from his recent bout of COVID-19 in prison.
The judge told him that the nature of the crime sowed fear in the community, and Mitchell cried apologizing for his actions.
Mitchell was a former employee of It’ll Be Pizza. The Scarborough, Maine, company makes several brands of dough, including the Portland Bay Company’s dough, which Mitchell tinkered with.
Court documents indicated that Mitchell’s life spiraled out of control during the pandemic when his girlfriend lost a hair salon and Mitchell was arrested after a domestic disturbance, leaving him homeless and living in his car. He was later fired from his job at It’ll Be Pizza.
Under the agreement, Mitchell agreed not to appeal the sentence, which has a term of no more than four years and nine months, according to court documents. The maximum penalty for product tampering is 10 years in prison.