Pilgrim’s Pride to plead guilty to chicken price-fixing & bid-rigging
A U.S. poultry producer is the first to plead guilty to conspiracy to fix prices and bid-rigging for broiler chicken products. The Justice Department says Pilgrim’s Pride agreed to a plea agreement, which if accepted by the courts will mean a nearly 108-million-dollar fine.
The agreement comes after investigation by the agency’s antitrust division, the FBI, the Department of Commerce, and the USDA.
Justice Department officials say ten executives and employees at major chicken producers were charged in the ongoing investigation. The department alleges producers rigged prices for grocers and restaurants as far back as 2012, including Kentucky Fried Chicken dark meat contracts in 2013 and ’14, which is the one charge Pilgrim’s Pride is pleading guilty to in the agreement.
Along with the fine, the court can order restitution payments. The proposed fine of nearly 108-million dollars is the base fine of 72.2 million dollars plus 20% of the volume of affected commerce estimated at more than 361-million dollars.
If a Colorado District Court judge does not accept the plea deal, the case will go to trial.