Shipping Executive Acquitted of Antitrust Charge
On May 8, 2015, a jury in Puerto Rico acquitted Thomas Farmer (Farmer), the former vice president of price and yield management for Crowley Liner Services, Inc., of conspiring to suppress and eliminate competition in violation of Sherman Act, Section 1. The case is United States v. Thomas Farmer (3:13-cr-00162) in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
In March 2013, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Farmer. The DOJ accused him of conspiring with competing shipping companies, from mid-2005 through April 2008, to fix rates and surcharges for freight transported between the United States and Puerto Rico. The DOJ alleged that Farmer and competing shipping executives participated in meetings, conversations, and communications where they agreed to allocate customers; fix and inflate prices; and rig bids submitted to government and commercial customers. The type of freight in the alleged conspiracy included heavy equipment, medicines, food, beverages and consumer goods.
While the jury acquitted Farmer, other shipping executives have either pled or been found guilty of similar charges. In January 2013, a Puerto Rican jury convicted, Frank Peake (Peake), the former president of Sea Star Line LLC. Peake was sentenced in December 2013 to five years in prison, which at the time was the longest prison sentence for a Sherman Act violation. In addition, five other shipping executives have pled guilty and been sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven months to four years.