Egg baron Jack DeCoster will be allowed to serve his federal prison sentence in New Hampshire for selling eggs that caused a salmonella outbreak.

DeCoster and his son Peter DeCoster pleaded guilty in Iowa federal court in 2014 to selling the adulterated eggs that led to the outbreak.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 2010 salmonella outbreak included 1,939 officially confirmed cases, and that more than 56,000 people may have been sickened nationally.

In addition to fines, the two Quality Egg executives were also sentenced to three months in prison and have been ordered to serve their time this year after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of their sentence.

Earlier this month, they asked to change the order in which they would serve their sentences and Jack DeCoster asked to be sent to a federal prison in New Hampshire.

DeCoster owned egg farms in Turner, which were repeatedly sued and fined for breaking labor, worker and food safety laws, violating environmental rules and for animal cruelty. In 1996, U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the conditions for workers at the Turner egg farms “as dangerous and oppressive as any sweatshop we’ve seen.”

Jack DeCoster, 82, eventually sold his Maine operations in 2011 and moved most of them to Iowa, where he has also faced fines and criticism for how he operated his farms. He was placed on probation for hiring undocumented workers and state authorities called him a “habitual offender” of employment laws. The governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, labeled Jack DeCoster “a bad egg” who cheated contractors, didn’t pay his bills, hired illegal immigrants and broke environmental laws.

After pleading guilty to selling the adulterated eggs, the DeCosters appealed the part of the sentence that called for them to serve time in prison. Both have paid $100,000 fines that were part of the sentence, but each still owes more than $80,000 in court-ordered restitution.

In addition, Quality Egg was fined nearly $6.8 million.

The Supreme Court in May declined to hear their case, so the two went back to the Iowa court and asked that Jack DeCoster be allowed to serve his sentence in New Hampshire because he and his wife have relocated to Maine from Iowa. Maine has no federal prison facilities and the closest facility is a medium-security prison in Berlin, New Hampshire.

A federal judge also granted a request by the DeCosters to stagger their sentences so they aren’t imprisoned at the same time. Peter DeCoster will report to a federal prison in South Dakota on July 20, which will allow him to attend his daughter’s wedding in Iowa before going to prison.


The judge also altered the order of their sentences: Jack DeCoster was originally scheduled to go to prison first, followed by his son. Lawyers said switching the sentences will allow Jack DeCoster to get medical treatment after he suffered a recent episode of dizziness and weakness. He also suffers from hypertension, hyperlipidemia, anemia, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, prostate cancer and pre-diabetes, according to court filings.

That means that Jack DeCoster will report to the New Hampshire prison a month after his son is released. His lawyers have said that he will seek medical treatment in the meantime, primarily for his heart problems.

The prison he will be reporting to is located on Success Loop Road in Berlin. It houses 889 inmates in a medium-security facility and another 64 at an adjacent minimum-security “camp.” It has a capacity of 1,152 in the medium-security part of the facility and 128 in minimum security, where Jack DeCoster is expected to be assigned. Visitation is allowed on Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays.

In their filing to allow Jack DeCoster to serve his time there, his lawyers said he is likely to have better access to medical treatment at the Berlin prison and it will also be easier for family to visit him from Maine.

Construction of the prison was completed in November 2010, but the facility didn’t open for a year because of federal budget issues. The most notable prisoner housed at Berlin appears to have been Kent Hovind, who ran a church and creationist theme park in Florida. Hovind was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty in 2006 on 58 charges, most of them related to avoiding federal income taxes. He was released in August 2015.

The prison where Peter DeCoster will be sent is a minimum-security facility with 480 inmates in Yankton, South Dakota.

Edward D. Murphy can be cpntacted at:

[email protected]

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