Poultry industry executives indicted on price-fixing charges

Poultry industry executives indicted on price-fixing charges

By Susan Kelly on 6/3/2020

A grand jury in Denver has indicted four current and former poultry industry executives, including Pilgrim’s Pride Chief Executive Jayson Penn, on charges of conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens from 2012 to 2017, the Department of Justice announced today.

Also charged in the indictment are Roger Austin, a former Pilgrim’s executive; Claxton Poultry President Mikell Fries, and Scott Brady, a Claxton vice president. The charges in the one-count indictment are the first to be filed in the ongoing investigation into price fixing of broiler chickens, the DOJ said.

“Particularly in times of global crisis, the division remains committed to prosecuting crimes intended to raise the prices Americans pay for food,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Makan Delrahim said in a press release. “Executives who cheat American consumers, restaurateurs, and grocers, and compromise the integrity of our food supply, will be held responsible for their actions.”

“The FBI will not stand by as individuals attempt to line their pockets while hard-working Americans and restaurant owners are trying to put food on their tables,” said Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Today’s announcement shows the FBI’s commitment to investigating allegations of price fixing so that the perpetrators can be held accountable.”

The federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry is being conducted by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation Washington Field Office, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General.