The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that six additional people were indicted for anticompetitive activity in the department’s broiler chicken investigation. The release said the individuals were involved “in a previously indicted conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products.” It said the individuals were charged with “three-count superseding indictment charges” and that they are all employees at major broiler chicken companies.
This indictment raises the number of individuals who have been charged in the alleged antitrust conspiracy to ten, the initial four individuals were charged in early June. The indictment also included additional allegations against the defendants who were previously charged. The alleged antitrust activity took place between at least 2012 and 2019. Broiler chickens are raised and sold for human consumption.
The six additional individuals charged included Timothy Mulrenin, William Kantola, Jimmie Little, William Lovette, Gary Roberts, and Rickie Blake. They are each executives or employees of a company which supplies broiler chicken products, Successful Farming reported that at least four of the ten individuals worked for Pilgrim’s Pride, and one was an executive at Perdue Farms who previously worked for Tyson Foods. . This case is reportedly the result of “an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry.”
Little was also accused of making false statements to law enforcement officers and obstruction of justice. The individuals were all charged with breaching the Sherman Act, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The release specifies that “an indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The division will not tolerate collusion that inflates prices American shoppers and diners pay for food,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division said in the release. “Executives who choose collusion over competition will be held to account for schemes that cheat consumers and corrupt our competitive markets. The division will also continue to charge those who knowingly lie to our law enforcement partners and obstruct our investigations — such conduct undermines our criminal justice system and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
A notice of the filing was also submitted in a consolidated Northern District of Illinois consolidated case alleging the same or similar antitrust activities.