Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
December 18, 2008: Guilty Plea in YouTube "Poisoned Baby Food" Hoax
LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANTON DUNN, a/k/a "Trashman," pleaded guilty today on charges stemming from YouTube videos he had posted of himself where he claimed he had arranged to have Gerber baby food poisoned, so as to kill babies. According to the criminal Complaint, the Indictment to which DUNN pleaded, and statements at his plea:
On April 20, 2008, ANTON DUNN, calling himself "Trashman," anonymously posted a video of himself on the YouTube website. In the video, entitled "gerbersbabyfoodalert," DUNN stated that Gerber employees acting at his direction had poisoned millions of bottles of Gerber baby food, to kill babies who ate it. DUNN further stated that it was "too late" to do anything about the poisoned baby food because it had already been shipped to consumers. In the video, DUNN called himself "Trashman," and wore a black mask which covered most of his face, but left his eyes, nose, and mouth partially visible. DUNN posted a second, similar, video on July 24, 2008, which led to a flood of consumer calls to Gerber alerting Gerber to DUNN's videos and expressing alarm about the safety of Gerber’s baby food. In a third similar video posted on July 27, 2008, DUNN stated that a total of four babies had already died. Gerber, however, found no evidence that its baby food had been tampered with as indicated in DUNN's "Trashman" videos, nor did the Food and Drug Administration receive any reports of death or injury resulting from the consumption of Gerber baby food as described by DUNN.
DUNN pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting threats in interstate commerce. DUNN faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary loss or gain derived from the offense. DUNN, 43, resides in Manhattan.
ANTON DUNN is scheduled to be sentenced on March 20, 2009 by United States District Judge LAWRENCE M. McKENNA.
Mr. DASSIN praised the work of the United States Food and Drug Administration Detroit, New York, and Chicago field offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this case. Mr. DASSIN stated, “Even bogus threats of harm to consumer products can lead to great harm to the affected company and needless alarm to wide numbers of individual consumers. This case demonstrates our commitment to investigate and prosecute such pernicious conduct.”
This case is being prosecuted by the Office's Major Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney SEETHA RAMACHANDRAN is in charge of this prosecution.