DENVER – Lawyers for the US Department of Justice dropped charges against five poultry industry executives on trial for antitrust violations after two mistrials.

The prosecutors dropped charges against Timothy Mulrenin, William Kantola, Jimmie Little, Gary Brian Roberts, and Rickie Blake. Mulrenin was director of National Account Sales at Salisbury, Md.-based Perdue Farms and a former sales executive at Tyson Foods Inc. Kantola was vice president, foodservice at Koch Foods Inc. Little was described in the original complaint as “a sales director” at Pilgrim’s Pride. He also was charged with “making false statements and obstruction of justice.” Roberts was vice president of sales and marketing at Case Farms and former vice president, National Accounts at Tyson Foods Inc. Roberts supervised Mulrenin. Blake was described in the original complaint as “a director and manager” at George’s Inc.

“The government brought charges against all 10 defendants to promote judicial economy,” a court document stated. “Dismissal without prejudice will allow the government to properly enforce federal law by proceeding against the remaining five defendants and to promote the fair administration of criminal justice.”

A Colorado grand jury indicted the executives in 2020 and the first trial began in October. The DOJ accused the men of engaging “…in a continuing combination and conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by rigging bids and fixing prices and other price-related terms for broiler chicken products sold in the United States.”

The court document also stated that the government plans to contact the court separately to suggest possible hearing dates regarding the appearance of Jonathan Kanter, Assistant Attorney General of the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, to discuss proceeding with re-trial of Jayson Penn, Mikell Fries, Scott Brady, Roger Austin and Bill Lovette.