Pilgrim’s Pride to pay more than $110 million to settle chicken price-fixing charges

Pilgrims Pride Pittsburg
**ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS DEC. 6-7**A statue of Pilgrim's Pride founder Bo Pilgrim is displayed outside the distribution center near Pittsburg, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. Pilgrim is a hero in this town of 4,600, where he built up a small feed store into the nation's largest chicken producer. Many residents say Pittsburg wouldn't exist without Pilgrim's Pride, and now they're betting on Bo Pilgrim to rescue the company and the town from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Pilgrim’s Pride announced Wednesday that it will pay more than $110.5 million in a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

The plea is related to the DOJ’s investigation into broiler chicken products, according to a news release. Earlier this year, senior executives from Colorado-based Pilgrim’s and Georgia-based Claxton Poultry Farms — major US chicken producers — were indicted for conspiring to fix prices and rig bids on broiler chickens, which are sold to grocery stores and restaurants.

The one-count indictment leveled charges against former CEO Jayson Penn and former vice president, Roger Austin. The Wall Street Journal reported Penn left the company in September.

“We are encouraged that today’s agreement concludes the Antitrust Division’s investigation into Pilgrim’s, providing certainty regarding this matter to our team members, suppliers, customers and shareholders,” said Fabio Sandri, interim CEO of Pilgrim’s.

Pilgrim’s is the second largest broiler chicken supplier in the United States, after Tyson Foods.

– Clare Duffy contributed to this report