Stephen L. Hodge, a former senior vice president with Starkist Co., has been added to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal complaint in connection with price-fixing charges involving canned and pouched tuna fish.
The Pennsylvania resident joins two Bumble Bee Seafoods executives previously charged in the case. Another Bumble Bee executive, Walter Scott Cameron, pled guilty in December to felony price fixing in the case.
San Diego-based Bumble Bee agreed in May to plead guilty to a one-count felony charge and to pay a $25 million fine. The fine would increase to $81.5 million if the company is sold.
Bumble Bee was set to be acquired by Thai Union Group Public Co. Ltd. until negotiations broke off because of DOJ anti-trust objections. Thai Union owns Chicken of the Sea.
As in the Cameron criminal complaint, DOJ accuses Hodge of participating in a scheme “to fix, raise and maintain the prices of packaged seafood sold in in the United States” beginning in early 2011 and continuing until 2013. The complaint alleges he “engaged in conversations and discussions and attended meetings with representatives of other major packaged-seafood-producing firms.”
Starkist is the country’s top-selling tuna brand. Bumble Bee is No. 2 brand.