A woman and her adult son have been convicted of trying to extort money from the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain by claiming they found a dead mouse in a bowl of soup while celebrating Mother’s Day in 2004.
Jurors deliberated nearly four hours Friday before convicting Carla Patterson, 38, and Ricky Patterson, 22, of conspiracy to commit extortion.
Carla Patterson claimed she had already eaten some of her vegetable soup on May 8, 2004, the day before Mother’s Day, when she scooped up the mouse.
Charges were filed after a necropsy showed the mouse died of a fractured skull. It had no soup in its lungs and had not been cooked, signs that the rodent was dropped into the soup after its death.
Cracker Barrel officials said the Pattersons sought $500,000 from the company.
The defendants insisted they were innocent, claiming Cracker Barrel officials offered them money to make the bad publicity go away. They wept when the verdict was read.
The Pattersons faced up to 10 years in prison, but the jury recommended sentences of one year and fines of $2,500 each. Sentencing is set for July 5.