Federal trial against former Pilgrim’s Pride executives delayed to October

DENVER — A federal judge has delayed the criminal trial for former Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (Nasdaq: PPC) CEO Jayson Penn and several former executives from August to late October, marking the third rescheduling in the price-fixing case.

U.S. District Court for Colorado chief judge Philip Brimmer ordered the trial to move from Aug. 2 to Oct. 25 after Penn and his co-defendants asked for another delay, which was not opposed by prosecutors.

The trial is now scheduled to last 32 days.

Multiple delays are common in complex litigation such as antitrust and price-fixing cases, where both sides tend to need more time to go through reams of documents to build their cases. Penn’s defense team said that prosecutors have presented them with more than 1.37 million pages of evidence as of last week.

Penn was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice last June, when he was alleged to have conspired with competitors to rig bids and fix prices of chicken offered to grocers and restaurant suppliers from 2012 to 2017.

The group of defendants expanded over the past several months to include former Pilgrim’s CEOs Penn and William Lovette, Vice President Roger Austin, and sales executive Jimmie Little.

Violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

All of the executives are being charged individually as part of a larger investigation into allegations of price fixing among the largest chicken suppliers in the U.S., with their employers also facing civil penalties.

Greeley-based Pilgrim’s agreed last October to pay $110.52 million to settle DOJ charges from the investigation. Pilgrim’s also agreed to pay $75 million to settle a separate class-action suit that arose from the investigation, which included distributors and grocers such as Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) and Chick-fil-A Inc.

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DENVER — A federal judge has delayed the criminal trial for former Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (Nasdaq: PPC) CEO Jayson Penn and several former executives from August to late October, marking the third rescheduling in the price-fixing case.

U.S. District Court for Colorado chief judge Philip Brimmer ordered the trial to move from Aug. 2 to Oct. 25 after Penn and his co-defendants asked for another delay, which was not opposed by prosecutors.

The trial is now scheduled to last 32 days.

Multiple delays are common in complex litigation such as antitrust and price-fixing cases, where both sides tend to need more time to go through reams of documents to build their cases. Penn’s defense team said that prosecutors have presented them with more than 1.37 million pages of evidence as of last week.

Penn was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice last June, when he was alleged to have conspired with competitors to rig bids and fix prices of chicken offered to grocers and restaurant suppliers from 2012 to 2017.

The group of defendants expanded over the past several months to include former Pilgrim’s CEOs Penn and William Lovette, Vice President Roger Austin, and sales executive Jimmie Little.

Violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

All of the executives are being charged individually as part of a larger investigation into allegations of price fixing among the largest chicken suppliers in the U.S., with their employers also facing civil penalties.

Greeley-based Pilgrim’s agreed…