DENVER — Two Colorado cantaloupe farmers linked to the nation’s deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in a quarter-century were sentenced Tuesday to probation and home detention, but the judge said he wasn’t sending them to prison so they could work to pay off $150,000 each in restitution.
Before they were sentenced, Eric and Ryan Jensen read statements apologizing to the victims of the 2011 listeria outbreak, which killed 33 people and sickened 147 in 28 states, according to federal health authorities.
Both brothers pleaded guilty to federal charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. They could have faced six years in prison and fines of $1.5 million each, but Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty said he chose not impose either so they could continue working to support their families and pay restitution.
Each will serve five years of probation and six months of home detention and perform 100 hours of community service.