The second federal trial for 10 poultry industry executives accused of conspiring to rig bids and drive up the price of chicken ended in a mistrial – just as the first trial did.
According to a Bloomberg report, U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer ended the case on March 29 after jurors said they were unable to reach a verdict against the defendants after four days of deliberations.
Those who were tried were: Mikell Fries, president of Claxton Poultry, Bill Lovette, former CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride; Jayson Penn, also a former CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride, Scott Brady, vice president of Claxton Poultry; Timothy Mulrenin, an executive with Perdue Farms who formerly worked for Tyson Foods; William Kantola, an executive with Koch Foods; Jimmie Little, a former Pilgrim’s Pride sales director; Rickie Blake, a former director and manager at George’s; Roger Austin, a former Pilgrim’s vice president; and Gary Roberts, a Case Farms employee and former Tyson Foods employee.
The first trial occurred in 2021 and lasted seven weeks. After nearly four days of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared on December 16.
Bloomberg reported that after the mistrial, a member of the prosecution team said the government plans to try the 10 defendants for a third time.
The indictments that led up to the two trials, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation Washington Field Office and U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General.