Poultry Industry Executives Found Not Guilty in Price Fixing Case

A Denver jury acquitted five current and former Pilgrim’s Pride officials.

Pilgrim's Pride plant, Cold Spring. Minn., April 28, 2020.
Pilgrim's Pride plant, Cold Spring. Minn., April 28, 2020.
Dave Schwarz/St. Cloud Times via AP, File

DENVER (AP) — Five executives from the poultry processing industry have been found not guilty of conspiring to fix prices.

A jury in a Denver federal court acquitted former Pilgrim’s Pride CEOs Jayson Penn and William Lovette; Roger Austin, a former Pilgrim’s vice president; Mikell Fries, president of Claxton Poultry and Scott Brady, a Claxton vice president.

In October 2020 Pilgrim's Pride reached a plea agreement with the U.S. government over charges of price-fixing in the chicken industry.

Under the agreement, Pilgrim’s Pride would pay a fine of $110.5 million as a penalty for restraining competition in three separate contracts with a U.S. customer. In exchange, the U.S. Department of Justice would not bring further charges against Pilgrim’s Pride or recommend a monitor or any probationary period.

Pilgrim’s Pride, based in Greeley, Colorado, is a division of JBS USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Brazilian meat production giant JBS SA.

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