The poultry company executives whose criminal trial on price-fixing charges ended in a hung jury will have to undergo a new trial, the judge in the case has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer ruled that enough evidence exists “to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that a conspiracy existed between Pilgrim's, Koch Foods, Claxton Poultry, Tyson Foods, Mar-Jac Poultry, and George's Inc. to rig bids and fix prices.” He was responding to a defense motion for dismissal of the charges.
The initial trial ended Dec. 16 after the jury deadlocked on price-fixing charges. Evidence was presented during the trial in the form of emails and texts, dating to 2012, showing the defendants – who worked for ostensible competitors – exchanging information about pricing and other matters relating to trade customers. In addition, a former Pilgrim’s Pride employee testified for the prosecution that he regularly obtained competitor pricing to hold down prices for customers.
The 10 executives charged in the case, who include former Pilgrim’s Pride CEOs Jayson Penn and William Lovette, will have to stand trial again after a hearing scheduled for Feb. 10. At the time Brimmer declared the mistrial, he set a new trial date for Oct. 31.