Former Food CEO Sentenced to Prison for Tuna Price-Fixing Conspiracy

Former CEO of Bumble Bee Foods LLC, Christopher Lischewski, was sentenced to 40 months in prison and a $100,000 fine for his role in a three-year antitrust conspiracy. He allegedly played a leadership rule in an effort to fix the prices of canned tuna according to a Department of Justice announcement.

“The sentence imposed today will serve as a significant deterrent in the C-suite and the boardroom,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Executives who cheat American consumers out of the benefits of competition will be brought to justice, particularly when their antitrust crimes affect the most basic necessity, food.  Today’s sentence reflects the serious harm that resulted from the multi-year conspiracy to fix prices of canned tuna.”

Lischewski was charged in May 2018 and underwent a four-week trial in late 2019 where he was convicted of participation in the conspiracy as a leader or organizer. The conspiracy allegedly affected over $600 million in canned tuna sales.

Bumble Bee Foods LLC pled guilty and will pay a $25 million fine in criminal penalties. StarKist Co. was also sentenced to pay a maximum of $100 million. Three other tuna company executives pled guilty in the conspiracy case.

The court overruled an objection from Lischewski, ruling that victims’ statements would be heard through their counsel at the sentencing. Lischewski is represented by Keker & Van Nest.

Court cases around the conspiracy are still in progress, on Tuesday the Ninth Circuit rejected a plea from StarKist Co., Bumble Bee Foods LLC, and Tri-Union Seafoods LLC to stop district court class-action proceedings while waiting for a judgment from the federal appellate court judge.