Colorado Man Sentenced for Tampering with a Consumer Product by Putting Syringe in Bag of Chips

DENVER (LAWFUEL) – Jacob John Polick, age 35, of Thornton, Colorado, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane to serve 5 years probation for tampering with a consumer product by putting a syringe into a bag of potato chips. Judge Kane also ordered Polick to have no contact with the victim of the offense, Frito-Lay Corporation, during the term of his probation.

Jacob John Polick was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on September 9, 2008. He pled guilty before Judge Kane on November 7, 2008. He was sentenced by Judge Kane today, February 12, 2009.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on January 2, 2008, Jacob Polick contacted Frito-Lay and stated he was eating a bag of Ruffle Potato Chips when he found a clear plastic syringe with a brown and green dried substance and a bent needled in the bag. Previously, on March 22, 2006, Polick had filed a complaint against Frito-Lay, stating that he noticed a pin hole toward a corner of a bag of Baken-Ets, and that it smelled of rubbing alcohol. Polick claimed he felt sick shortly after eating the Baken-Ets. The fact Polick had made this similar claim caused the company and its employees to question the veracity of the new claim. Thus, the company reported these events to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Polick then told FDA investigators essentially that he and his wife obtained a variety family pack of Frito-Lay chips from a Safeway in Thornton, Colorado. He claimed that he was eating his lunch while working the night shift at a local hotel, when he opened a bag of Ruffles potato chips. Polick told the FDA that he ate two chips, when he noticed a “funny” taste. He then dumped the contents of the bag out onto a styrofoam plate, where he said that he observed a syringe fall out of the bag.

Further investigation by the FDA determined that Polick and a friend known as “RED”, came up with the idea of planting a syringe in a bag of chips. RED told Polick they could make a lot of money by claiming they found a syringe in a bag of Ruffles. RED convinced Polick that they would split 50/50 any money they might make. On December 29, 2007, at around midnight, Polick watched RED “cook” a rock crystal he believed to be crack cocaine with some water and baking soda in a spoon. RED then took out a syringe, filled it with the cocaine solution, and shot it into his arm. He told Polick to get the bag of chips. Polick went inside the hotel and retrieved an unopened bag of Ruffles potato chips. RED opened the bag, and took the syringe, dragged it on the ground and filled it up with some dirt, bent the needle, and then placed it inside the bag of Ruffles. RED then gave the bag back to Polick.

Polick later contacted Frito-Lay in an attempt to obtain money. He was unsuccessful. Polick later admitted that he lied to representatives of Frito-Lay to obtain money.

“This type of criminal act, especially now when consumers are already wary, cannot be tolerated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Gaouette.

“The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations considers this illegal conduct very serious and is fully committed to investigating and supporting the prosecution of those who endanger the public health by tampering with food products,” said Steve Holt, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Kansas City Field Office. “We commend the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their diligence.”

This case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA OCI).

Polick was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena.

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