DENVER, CO – This week, a federal grand jury in Denver, Colorado, returned an indictment charging Koch Foods, headquartered in Park Ridge, Illinois, for participating in a nationwide conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products. Separately, a federal grand jury in Denver returned an indictment charging four executives for their roles in the same conspiracy.
According to court documents, the four charged former Pilgrim’s Pride executives are Jason McGuire, a former Executive Vice President of Sales for Prepared Foods; Timothy Stiller, a former General Manager of Fresh Food Services and Small Bird Debone; Wesley “Scott” Tucker, a former National Accounts sales executive; and Justin Gay, a former Director of Fresh Foodservice Sales.
The indictments allege that the defendants and co-conspirators conspired to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products, which are chickens raised for human consumption and sold to grocers and restaurants. Koch’s senior vice president, William Kantola, is among ten individuals indicted in October 2020 for their roles in the conspiracy. On May 19, a grand jury returned an indictment against Claxton Poultry for its role in the same conspiracy, which today’s indictment supersedes. Pilgrim’s Pride, a major broiler chicken producer based in Greeley, Colorado, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2021 to pay a criminal fine of $107 million for its role in the conspiracy. The long-running conspiracy began as early as 2012 and lasted until at least 2019.
Koch Foods, McGuire, Stiller, Tucker and Gay are each charged with a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Defendants McGuire, Stiller, Tucker and Gay will make their initial court appearances on Aug. 11 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Crews of the U.S. District Court for Colorado. Koch Foods’ initial appearance is also scheduled on Aug. 11 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Crews for the U.S. District Court for Colorado The Sherman Act carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals, and a $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry.