Federal prosecutors have signaled that they intend to try poultry-company executives on criminal price-fixing charges for a third time – only this time, fewer of them.
In the wake of a second mistrial due to a hung jury, prosecutors said in a motion March 31 that they intend to bring charges a third time, but against fewer defendants than the 10 in the first two trials.
Charges would be dismissed against five defendants, employees or former employees of Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson Foods, Koch Foods, Geroges Inc. and Case Farms. However, the two highest-profile defendants, former Pilgrim’s Pride CEOs William Lovette and Jayson Penn, would still be charged.
The government alleges that the executives’ companies communicated pricing information among themselves, even though they are purportedly competitors, to keep the prices of their products high. The charges resulted in a mistrial in December, and another one this month.
The judge in the case has requested the head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division to appear before him and explain the reasons for trying the case a third time.