Pilgrim’s Pride first to plead guilty to chicken pricing program
Pilgrim’s Pride, the second largest chicken processing plant in the country, has become the first company to plead guilty to chicken pricing charges. For its role, the company pay a criminal fine of $ 108 million in connection with a Justice Department antitrust investigation into the industry.
According to the plea deal, reached in U.S. District Court in Denver, the JBS SA-owned company participated in a price-fixing and bid-rigging plot between 2012 and 2017. At least $ 361 million in sales of Pilgrim were affected. The company’s largest customers are wholesaler Costco and the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food chain.
Last June, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Jayson Penn, then president and CEO of the company, as well as former vice president of Pilgrim’s Pride Roger Austin, for their role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broilers Across the country.
“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates our unwavering commitment to prosecuting companies that violate the country’s antitrust laws, especially when it comes to something as central to everyday life as the food we do. let’s eat, “Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Powers of the Antitrust Division said.
In January, the company announced that it pay $ 75 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by some of its clients. That same month, Tyson Foods said it disburse $ 221.5 million to settle similar claims. If this settlement goes ahead, it will be the largest anti-competitive settlement to date in the series of price fixing complaints. In this agreement, Tyson is authorized to opt out of the pricing lawsuits brought against him.
“Today’s advocacy is another example of the FBI’s continued work to eliminate bid-rigging and pricing and hold those who carry out these activities accountable for their actions,” said Steven M. D’Antuono. , deputy director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office. “These criminal acts deceive American workers and consumers while harming competitive markets. “
Under Sherman Law, a company can be fined up to $ 100 million, but the amount can be increased up to twice the cane of the conspiracy company or double the loss of the victim if one or the other is higher.
Ten executives and employees of major broiler chicken producers have also already been charged, and all have pleaded not guilty. The investigation remains ongoing.