SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A former peanut company executive serving a 28-year prison sentence won't have to pay money to victims of a deadly salmonella outbreak linked to his Georgia plant.

A federal judge decided Wednesday to spare former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and three co-defendants from paying restitution to corporate customers and the families of hundreds who got sick after eating tainted peanut butter in 2008 and 2009. The outbreak was blamed for nine deaths.

U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands ruled victim loss estimates by prosecutors were invalid because they were based on civil claims and included costs that can't be recovered in a criminal case. The prison sentence Parnell received last September was the harshest criminal penalty ever for a U.S. producer in a food-borne illness case.