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Chickengate ends with a whimper. The Poulette Oligarchy is left unchecked.

Those smug Chicken wielding Illuminati continue to manipulate my life. Bastards.


What competition Frank?


Price-Fixing Charges Against Chicken-Industry Executives Are Dismissed

Two former Pilgrim’s Pride staffers were the last defendants facing trial over an alleged conspiracy


By Dave Michaels, WSJ

Updated Oct. 17, 2022 2:58 pm ET


WASHINGTON—The Justice Department’s last criminal case against former poultry-industry executives accused of price-fixing has collapsed, bringing an apparent end to a probe that alleged an effort by rival companies to coordinate prices of chickens sold to restaurants, grocery stores and others.


A federal judge on Monday dismissed charges against former Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. PPC 3.08%▲ employees Jason McGuire and Timothy Stiller after prosecutors moved to drop them. The Justice Department’s decision came after the judge criticized the case and barred most of the government’s evidence, including hundreds of emails and text messages and the anticipated testimony of the government’s main witness.


Prosecutors ceded the case while writing in a court filing that Judge Daniel D. Domenico’s ruling “departed from prior rulings” in Colorado federal court over the sufficiency of similar evidence in an earlier case.


The government lost that prior case after a trial in July, which was its third attempt to punish 10 other current and former executives of Pilgrim’s Pride, the second-largest U.S. chicken supplier by volume; Tyson Foods Inc., TSN 1.50%▲ the biggest supplier by volume; Koch Foods Inc.; and Claxton Poultry Farms. The allegations covered the period from 2012 to 2019.


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Separately, prosecutors in August dropped price-fixing charges against two other former Pilgrim’s Pride sales managers accused of involvement in the alleged conspiracy. They also dropped charges against Claxton and Koch Foods. Pilgrim’s Pride agreed in October 2020 to plead guilty to price-fixing and pay a $110.5 million fine.


The cases were part of an effort, started during the Trump administration and continued during the Biden administration, to more aggressively pursue what antitrust enforcers see as anticompetitive conduct that inflates Americans’ food bills. The Justice Department has also recently lost a string of civil lawsuits in which it sought to block proposed mergers of sugar producers, healthcare companies and national-security contractors.


A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Monday. Pilgrim’s Pride didn’t respond to a request for comment.


Judge Domenico’s order was a rare instance of a pretrial federal court ruling that most of the government’s evidence couldn’t be used to advance its price-fixing claims. In his ruling, the judge wrote that prosecutors hadn’t shown the existence of a conspiracy under even the lowest legal standard.


D. Jarrett Arp, a partner at Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP who represented Mr. McGuire, said his client “is grateful that this matter is concluded and he looks forward to moving on with his life.” Kristen M. Frost, an attorney for Mr. Stiller at Ridley, McGreevy & Winocur PC, said: “We think it is a just result and that justice was served.”


While the government had shown that executives of competing chicken firms shared information about prices, the statements were often too cryptic to infer there was an illegal deal to rig bids to customers, the judge wrote.


“If the defendants were conspiring with their competitors to rig prices, they showed remarkable discretion in failing to leave clear evidence of it in their extensive communications,” Judge Domenico wrote.


The government’s main cooperating witness, Robert Bryant, would have shown a pattern of information-sharing, not the existence of an illegal price-fixing deal, Judge Domenico wrote. Mr. Bryant was set to testify that as a Pilgrim’s Pride employee he spoke with the defendants about the effort to raise prices in coordination with rivals, but the judge found his statements too weak to meet the standard for admitting them into court.


Mr. Bryant testified in the earlier trials against current and former employees of Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson Foods, Koch Foods and Claxton Poultry Farms.



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