Charges have been dismissed against two former Pilgrim’s Pride executives in a long-running case where the Justice Department had alleged price-fixing in the poultry industry.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Domenico dismissed all counts Monday of indictments against Jason McGuire and Timothy Stiller. Both had been charged with bid-rigging and conspiracy, and Stiller also had been charged with witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
The government’s previous efforts in the case had resulted in two hung juries and a not-guilty finding for five former executives. Charges were dropped in August against former Pilgrim’s Pride executives Wesley “Scott” Tucker and Justin Gay.
McGuire, a former executive vice president of sales for prepared foods, and Stiller, a former general manager of fresh food services and small bird debone, were originally indicted in July 2021.
In requesting the dismissal, the Justice Department said the judge’s Oct. 14 order, which found “the government has not met its burden of demonstrating a price-fixing or bid-rigging conspiracy by a preponderance of the evidence,” had the effect of “excluding most of the government’s evidence in the process,” including emails and text messages.
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The government and witnesses slated to appear at trial “are wrong to suggest that evidence of price sharing compels the conclusion that … a conspiracy exists, both as a matter of law and a matter of fact,” Domenico wrote in his order. “The law is clear that sharing pricing information can be perfectly innocent if done independently and not pursuant to concerted action.”
“The government has shown that the alleged co-conspirators shared pricing information in advance of bids, but this alone is insufficient to prove a conspiracy,” the judge wrote.
He also said most of the anticipated testimony of the government's key witness "proves a pattern of information sharing, rather than the existence of a conspiracy."
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