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Victim’s Wife Thinks Jensen Brothers Deserve Extended Jail Sentence

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Investigator Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – The wife of a man who was among those who died in the cantaloupe listeria outbreak in 2011 wants a harsh punishment for the two brothers who pleaded guilty in federal court this week.

“I’d like them to go to jail for a while, just so that they know how it feels to be without your loved ones. Not to have that special person (around),” Penny Hauser said.

Eric and Ryan Jensen

Eric and Ryan Jensen head into the federal courthouse on Oct. 22, 2013. (credit: CBS)

Hauser’s husband Mike was one of the 33 people who died from listeria after eating the fruit. The bacteria was traced by health authorities to Jensen Farms, located near Holly in Southeastern Colorado. It was particularly traced to a packing shed with a conveyor meant for potatoes. It did not include a planned chlorine sprayer to kill germs.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control say the outbreak spread across 28 states and 147 people reported getting sick in addition to the reported deaths.

Eric and Ryan Jensen admitted on Tuesday that they introduced contaminated cantaloupe into the interstate food supply. The brothers indicated in court they did not know the cantaloupes were tainted, but pleaded guilty to each of the six misdemeanor counts they faced.

“They manned up and stepped up because this happened on their watch. And I’m proud of them for that,” Eric Jensen’s attorney Forrest Lewis said.

Their guilty pleas did not come in return for a recommendation from prosecutors for a reduced sentence. The Jensen are now at the mercy of the court.

Hauser says she doesn’t “have a bit of sympathy for them.”

“(Because of) the trauma that not only my husband and my family went through, but all these other families and what they went through,” she said.

The brothers will be sentenced in late January. They are now suing a safety auditor that who gave Jensen Farms a glowing review just before the outbreak.

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