US drops price-fixing charges against chicken executives

Not all charges were dropped
calendar icon 1 April 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

The US Department of Justice asked a federal court in Denver on Thursday to drop price-fixing charges filed against five executives of chicken producing companies after two mistrials in the case focused on competition in the $65 billion poultry sector, reported Reuters.

The department, however, did not drop charges against five other defendants. Judge Philip Brimmer of the US District Court for the District of Colorado ordered Jonathan Kanter, the head of the US Justice Department Antitrust Division, to appear before him and explain why the case should be retried.

The government dropped charges against Timothy Mulrenin, who worked at Tyson Foods at the time; William Kantola, who was in sales at Koch Foods Inc, Jimmie Little, a former salesman at Pilgrim's Pride, Gary Brian Roberts, who was at Tyson as a sales executive at the time, and Rickie Blake, who was at George's Inc.

This was done "in an effort to streamline the case and conserve the resources of the court, the parties, and the public," the department said in a court filing.

The remaining five defendants are two former Pilgrim's Pride chief executives and one salesman, as well as two Claxton Poultry Farms executives.

The court documents allege industry executives conspired to fix chicken prices from 2012 through 2019.

Tyson in 2020 said it was cooperating with the Justice Department's investigation under a corporate leniency program that could protect the company from criminal prosecution.

Also in 2020, US poultry company Pilgrim's Pride Corp agreed to pay a $110.5 million fine after striking a plea deal with the Justice Department over price-fixing charges on chicken products. Pilgrim's Pride is mostly owned by Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA.

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