An Indian restaurant owner, purported to be debt-ridden, has been arrested and charged after serving a customer a meal that he knew contained potentially lethal peanut powder.
53-year-old Mohammed Zaman, who also had illegal employees on his payroll, decided to use a cheaper ground nut mix (which contained peanuts) instead of the almond powder called for as a way of cost-cutting. That, in and of itself, isn’t a crime. But he failed to warn customers, and that is a crime.
It cost 38-year-old Paul Wilson, a man with peanut allergies, his life. He died at his home after eating curry with the cheaper substitute.
The waiter taking his order and the chef preparing the fatal meal were both undocumented immigrants working for Mr. Zaman.
Not even a month earlier, a 17-year-old student suffered anaphylaxic shock after having eaten another tainted dish at another of Zaman’s restaurants. She was saved after being rushed to the hospital and receiving an epi-pen injection.
Her mother had later called the restaurant asking if it had contained peanuts and was assured that it didn’t.
Even after that, Mr. Zaman didn’t change a thing and continued to sell meals containing peanuts; all the while assuring customers that they were safe for consumption by diners with nut allergies.
Paul Wilson was killed by the curry he bought at a separate restaurant,The Indian Garden, also in Easingwold, despite clearly stating “no nuts”.
Investigators bought a meal from one of Zaman’s restaurants and found potentially lethal doses of peanuts.
Even the day after Mr. Wilson’s death, Zaman was still selling meals containing peanuts that he continued to claim were safe for nut-allergy sufferers.
Mr. Wilson was found by his roommate slumped in the bathroom of his home with blood around his nose and mouth.
Mr. Wright said Zaman deliberately cut corners because he was desperately needed to save cash, running his businesses at their overdraft limits.
With debts adding up, Mr. Zaman met with his supplier, Fakir Chilwan, in June of 2013 asking him to replace almond power with ground nut powder, which was half the price.
Mr. ChilwanÂ made crystal clear to Zaman that he’d then need to change his menu to let customers know about the inclusion of peanuts and the potential consequences. Zaman agreed, but apparently lied.
Zaman has been charged with manslaughter in Mr. Wilson’s death, a charge which he still denies.
He pleaded not guilty to falsely describing food on a menu on January 23rd of 2014, and bypassing food safety regulations on January 23rd and 30th by placing food described as nut-free on the market that was unsafe for nut allergy sufferers.
The trial continues.