Why DOJ’s Chicken Price-Fixing Probe Fizzled Out
Lisa Phelan spoke to Law360 about the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) dropping the last remaining charges stemming from its investigation into an alleged price-fixing conspiracy among the nation’s largest chicken producers.
According to Lisa, the DOJ may have been hurt by a change in its enforcement strategy. In the past, the DOJ would try to obtain several guilty pleas from the companies themselves during a price-fixing investigation before charging executives. Here, however, Lisa said the agency appeared to be trying to “sort of shock the world” by charging the executives first, though enforcers never got the additional cooperation needed to firmly establish the conspiracy.
“I hope DOJ will rethink this approach that they’re taking, that it’s somehow impressive to quickly rush out with individual executive charges,” Lisa said. “If at the end of the day you can’t make the conviction, then it isn’t going to help with deterrence. It might actually embolden more defendants to fight these charges.”
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