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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Federal Collusion Trial of Chicken Executives Ends in Jury Deadlock


Defendants in the case included Jayson Penn and William “Bill” Lovette, former CEOs of Pilgrim’s Pride, Mikell Fries, President of Claxton Poultry Farms, his Vice President Scott Brady, and six others indicted for alleged collusion and price fixing.


According to Bloomberg in early 2020, Tyson Foods cooperated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and took advantage of a federal policy on leniency concerning voluntary disclosure of anti-competitive practices. In February 2020, Pilgrim’s Pride, a subsidiary of JBS SA, pleaded guilty to price-fixing and paid a fine of $108 million. 


Robert Bryant was a star witness for the government who testified under a grant of immunity that illegal action took place and that defendants “conspired to raise their prices and to hold strong as a united front together against the request of customers to reduce prices.” The defense maintained that it is not illegal to share pricing information and apparently the government failed to convince the jury that the defendants participated in a single conspiracy


It is now up to the DOJ to decide whether to retry one or more of the defendants in U.S. v Penn and others, either in Colorado or another jurisdiction.  A mistrial is neither a reflection of guilt nor innocence.  Given the issues involved and the fact that the employer of at least two and the most prominent defendants pleaded guilty to price-fixing and paid a substantial fine it is anticipated that the DOJ will retry some of those  indicted.

Copyright © 2022 Simon M. Shane