CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. government has indicted six more chicken-industry executives over alleged price-fixing, expanding antitrust prosecutions in its probe of the $65 billion poultry sector, according to court documents.
In June, the Justice Department indicted Pilgrim’s Pride (NASDAQ:) Chief Executive Jayson Penn and three others in its first charges in the criminal probe involving broiler birds, which account for most U.S. chicken meat.
Court documents filed on Tuesday show that former Pilgrim’s Pride CEO William Lovette has also been indicted. Lovette could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday, and a company spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pilgrim’s Pride, mostly owned by Brazil-based meatpacker JBS SA (OTC:), last month said Penn was exiting the company and would be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Fabio Sandri. Penn succeeded Lovette as CEO in 2019.
The documents allege that industry executives conspired to fix prices from 2012 through 2019.
Also indicted was a sales executive named Timothy Mulrenin, court documents show.
Mulrenin’s LinkedIn (NYSE:) page says he is Perdue Farms’ director of national account sales and was formerly Tyson Foods (NYSE:)’ director of sales. He did not immediately respond to a message sent through LinkedIn.
A Perdue spokeswoman had no immediate comment. A Tyson spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tyson in June said it was cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation under a program that could protect the company from criminal prosecution.
The indictments come after grocers, retailers and consumers filed a lawsuit accusing Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson and other poultry processors of conspiring to inflate prices for broiler chickens. The companies have denied the allegations.
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