In December, Lischewski was
U.S. District Judge
The meat industry is facing the
Lischewski joins a handful company leaders who’ve been locked up for price fixing over the last two decades. Federal prosecutors recommended the ex-CEO serve eight to 10 years in prison and pay a $1 million fine. His attorneys suggested he serve 12 months of home confinement.
Bumble Bee pleaded guilty to conspiring with
The seriousness of Lischewski’s crime can’t be understated because the product in question is a basic, low-price food staple and not a high-end consumer good like computers, Chen said. “This is food, food for people who, I think it’s fair to assume, include those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale based on the pricing of the product. So the impact has particular meaning.”
The judge allowed lawyers representing tuna purchasers in a parallel antitrust class-action lawsuit to speak at the sentencing.
Safeway overpaid Bumble Bee “millions of dollars” as result of the conspiracy, William Blechman, an attorney for
Chen lauded Lischewski, 59, for his philanthropic efforts and lack of a criminal record before he was charged and pointed to potential health risks he may face as Covid-19 is spreading in U.S. prisons.
Manish Kumar, an attorney for the Justice Department’s antitrust division, argued that age and “good acts” that high-level executives routinely engage in to maintain social and professional relationships can’t be the basis for a lenient sentence.
“Like all of us, the defendant was neither all good nor all bad,” Kumar said. But he engaged in criminal conduct “when no one was looking,” Kumar said.
Lischewski told the judge the evidence presented by his defense team showed “no financial harm or finding of any financial impact of price-fixing on U.S. consumers.”
“I took the responsibility of providing affordable food to American consumers very seriously,” he said.
The former executive is set to pay his fine within 120 days and surrender Aug. 17 at a minimum-security camp in Lompoc, California or Tucson, Arizona.
Lischewski plans to appeal, his lawyer,
(Adds details from court hearing)
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