DOJ Adds Six New Defendants to Price-Fixing Boiler Chicken Conspiracy


Michael Volkov, JDSupra

October 13, 2020


The Justice Department announced a major expansion of its ongoing investigation and prosecution of executives and employees in the boiler chicken price-fixing conspiracy.


DOJ recently returned a superseding indictment adding six new defendants to the boiler chicken conspiracy indictment, and expanding the scope of the charged conspiracy.† (Here for earlier Posting on conspiracy).


The new indictment charges ten (10) executives and employees at boiler chicken producers for their role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for chicken products.† The six additional individuals are Timothy Mulrenin, William Kantola, Jimmie Little, William Lovette, Gary Roberts and Rickie Blake.


The new indictment adds six defendants to the price-fixing conspiracy in the $65 billion poultry industry.† In addition, the new indictment expands the period of the charged conspiracy to 2012 to 2019.


The new defendants include Bill Lovette, the former CEO of Pilgrimís Pride, the second largest US chicken supplier.† Jason Penn, Pilgrimís current CEO, was charged in the original indictment in June.† Pilgrimís Vice President Roger Austin and Claxtonís President Mikell Fries and Scott Brady, a President, were also charged in the original June 2020 indictment.


The new defendants include executives and employees from companies involved in the price-fixing conspiracy: Timothy Mulrenin is a sales executive at Perdue Farms, who previously worked at Tyson; William Kantola is a sales executive at Koch Foods, Inc.; Jimmie Little is former sales director at Pilgrimís Pride; Gary Brian Roberts is an employee at Case Farms who previously worked at Tyson; and Rickie Blake, a former director and manager at Georgeís Inc.† Jimmie Little is also charged with making false statements to law enforcement agents and obstruction of justice.


The price-fixing conspiracy operated in the chicken industry responsible for supplying billions of pounds of chicken nuggets, breast filets, thighs and wings to US restaurant chains and grocery stores.


The six additional defendants join four senior industry executives from Pilgrimís Pride and Claxton Poultry Farms who were allegedly engaged in a long-running conspiracy to exchange pricing information and agree on bids submitted for chicken supply deals for major restaurant chains.


Tyson Foods was one of the earliest cooperators...


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