New indictments in broiler chicken conspiracy

Koch Foods, Incorporated, and four Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation executives were charged for their role in an alleged broiler chicken price-fixing scheme. The indictment is the latest action in an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice.

DTN says in February, Pilgrim’s Pride admitted to its role in a 2012 conspiracy to fix the price of broiler chickens. The company will pay $107.9 million as a part of its plea agreement in federal court. The new indictment alleges the defendants worked together to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products.

Those chickens are raised for human consumption and sold to restaurants and grocery stores. The four executives and Koch Foods have been charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The four Pilgrim’s Pride executives will make their initial appearance in court on August 11.

Violating the act results in a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a one million dollar fine for individuals, as well as a $100 million fine for corporations.

The indictment says the conspiracy goes back to 2012 and uses repeated text messages among the four men that discussed bids and prices for poultry contacts or overall market prices as the basis for the allegations. Those messages allegedly continued through 2017.

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