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Pilgrim's Pride, Claxton Poultry Farms indicted on antitrust charges

Christian Fernsby |
A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, returned an indictment against four executives for their role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens, the Department of Justice announced.

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The one-count indictment charges four current and former senior executives from two major broiler chicken producers with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens. Broiler chickens are chickens raised for human consumption and sold to grocers and restaurants.

According to the indictment, from at least as early as 2012 until at least early 2017, Jayson Penn, Roger Austin, Mikell Fries, and Scott Brady conspired to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chickens across the United States. Penn is the President and Chief Executive Officer, and Austin is a former Vice President, of Pilgrim's Pride CEO headquartered in Colorado. Fries is the President and a member of the board, and Brady is a Vice President, of Claxton Poultry Farms headquartered in Georgia.

Penn, Austin, Fries, and Brady are the first to be charged in an ongoing criminal investigation into price fixing and bid rigging involving broiler chickens.

An indictment alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The offense charged carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims if either amount is greater than $1 million.

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