U.S. chicken producer charged with price-fixing

WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - Claxton Poultry Farms Inc has been indicted in Colorado on charges of price-fixing broiler chickens produced for sale to restaurants and grocery stores, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.

The company’s president, Mikell Fries, and vice president, Scott Brady, were previously indicted for their roles in a nationwide conspiracy to fix chicken prices from 2012 to 2019.

If found guilty, Claxton could be fined $100 million or twice what it gained from participating in the price-fixing.

Claxton, which is based in Georgia, sells 300 million pounds of chicken annually to 750 customers, including major chains, according to its website.

In February, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp, one of the largest U.S. poultry producers, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay $107.9 million to settle federal charges it conspired to fix chicken prices and passed on the costs to consumers and other purchasers. It is owned mainly by Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA. (Reporting by Diane Bartz and Jon Stempel Editing by Marguerita Choy)