Five executives of major chicken processing companies were acquitted of all charges in their third trial on federal charges of price-fixing.
The first two trials of the current and former executives from Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton Poultry, in federal court in Denver, ended in hung juries. This time all five defendants were found not guilty on July 7 of conspiracy to withhold business by illegally colluding with purported competitors to fix the prices of chicken products.
The first two cases were brought against 10 defendants, including some who had worked for Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms. The charges against the Tyson and Perdue defendants were dropped before the third trial.
Acquitted were former Pilgrim's Pride CEOs Jayson Penn and William Lovette; Claxton Poultry president Mikell Fries and vice president Scott Brady; and former Pilgrim's Pride vice president Roger Austin.
“This case should never have been brought,” Penn’s attorney, Michael Tubach, said in a statement quoted by Bloomberg. “Jason Penn and his family have shown incredible strength throughout this trial. We are delighted that the jury has upheld Jason and he can now move on with his life.”