DENVER – A federal grand jury indicted Park Ridge, Ill.-based Koch Foods for participating in a nationwide conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products, while another federal grand jury indicted four Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. executives for their role in the same conspiracy, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
The four Pilgrim’s Pride executives are Jason McGuire, a former executive vice president of sales for the company’s Prepared Foods business; Timothy Stiller, a former general manager of Fresh Food Services and Small Bird Debone; Wesley “Scott” Tucker, a national accounts sales executive; and Justin Gay, director of Fresh Foodservice Sales. Mr. McGuire, Mr. Stiller, Mr. Tucker and Mr. Gay will make their initial court appearances on Aug. 11 before US Magistrate Judge S. Kato Crews of the US District Court for Colorado.
Koch’s senior vice president, William Kantola, is among 10 individuals indicted in October 2020 for their roles in the conspiracy, the DOJ noted. In May, a grand jury returned an indictment against Claxton Poultry for its role in the same conspiracy, which the most-recent indictment supersedes. Koch Foods’ initial appearance has not yet been scheduled, the DOJ said.
“As today’s charges show, the division remains committed to holding both individuals and companies accountable when they choose profits over following the law,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. “Our investigation into criminal price fixing of broiler chickens continues, and we will not stop until we ensure that wrongdoers are held accountable, and competition is restored to this critical industry.”
Previous indictments resulting from the investigation were handed down against:
- Jayson Penn, former chief executive officer of Pilgrim’s Pride;
- Roger Austin, vice president of fresh foodservice at Pilgrim’s;
- Mikell Fries president of Claxton Poultry;
- Scott Brady, vice president of national accounts at Claxton Poultry;
- Bill Lovette, a former president and CEO of Pilgrim’s who was succeeded by Penn;
- Timothy R. Mulrenin, director of National Account Sales at Salisbury, Md.-based Perdue Farms and a former sales executive at Tyson Foods Inc.;
- William Kantola, vice president, foodservice at Koch Foods Inc.;
- Jimmie Lee Little, described in the complaint as “a sales director” at Pilgrim’s;
- Gary Brian Roberts, vice president of sales and marketing at Case Farms and former vice president, National Accounts at Tyson Foods Inc.; and
- Rickie Patterson Blake, described in the complaint as “a director and manager” at George’s Inc.
Greeley, Colo.-based Pilgrim’s, a unit of JBS SA, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2021 to pay a criminal fine of more than $107 million for its role in the conspiracy.