PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A man accused of putting razor blades and screws in pizza dough at supermarkets in Maine and New Hampshire was sentenced Thursday to four years and nine months in federal prison.
The sentencing of Nicholas Mitchell, 39, of Dover, New Hampshire, followed an agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty in June to one of two counts of tampering with a consumer product. He also must pay nearly $230,000 in restitution to Hannaford Supermarkets.
The hearing proceeded even though Mitchell was recovering from a recent bout of COVID-19 contracted in jail.
The judge told him the nature of the crime spread fear in the community and Mitchell tearfully apologized for his actions.
Mitchell was arrested in October 2020 after razor blades were found in pizza dough sold at a Hannaford store in Saco.
Three customers bought the tainted product in Saco and discovered the blades hidden in the dough, prosecutors said. Product tampering also occurred at Hannaford stores in Sanford, Maine, and Dover, New Hampshire, prompting investigations by police department in those communities, as well.
Mitchell was a former employee of It’ll Be Pizza. The Scarborough, Maine, company makes several brands of dough, including the Portland Pie Co. dough that was allegedly tampered with.
Court documents indicated that Mitchell’s life spiraled out of control during the pandemic when his girlfriend lost her hair salon and Mitchell was arrested following a domestic disturbance, leaving him homeless and living in his car. He was later fired from his job at It’ll Be Pizza.
Under the agreement, Mitchell agreed not to appeal a sentence that is no greater than four years and nine months, according to court documents. The maximum penalty for product tampering is 10 years in prison.