Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Price fixing end in another mistrial

The case the United States Department of Justice brought against poultry-industry executives has once again ended in a mistrial in a Denver, Colorado, court.

The department said it might try for a third time, but local officials are not willing to try again.

The case, which charged 10 current and former poultry company executives for allegedly conspiring to fix broiler chicken prices, also resulted in a mistrial last December when the jury failed to reach a verdict, and the DOJ's second attempt suffered the same deadlocked fate.

U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer has voiced public skepticism about head office indications it wants to try again.

“I am going to order that the head of the antitrust division come in here within the next week and look me in the eye and explain to me why the government is going to retry this case,” Brimmer said. 

“If the government thinks that the 10 defendants and their attorneys and my staff and another group of jurors should spend six weeks retrying this case after the government has failed in two attempts to convict even one defendant, then certainly Mr. Jonathan Kanter has the time to come to Denver and explain to me why the Department of Justice thinks that that is an appropriate thing to do."

The government’s case alleged the defendants conspired to rig bids and prices of broiler chickens from 2012 to 2019.

The defendants were: Pilgrim's Pride CEOs Jayson Penn and William Lovette; Claxton President Mikell Fries; Claxton Vice President Scott Brady; and Roger Austin, Rickie Blake, William Kantola, Jimmie Little, Timothy Mulrenin and Gary Roberts.