DENVER – Lawyers for Jason McGuire, a former executive vice president of sales for Prepared Foods at Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., filed a motion to dismiss a federal indictment alleging McGuire participated in a conspiracy to fix prices for broiler chickens.

A court document filed on Feb. 7 denies any wrongdoing by McGuire and states the allegations against him fall outside the statute of limitations. A federal grand jury in Denver, Colo., returned an indictment against McGuire in July of 2021. Also named in the indictment were Timothy Stiller, a former general manager of Fresh Food Services and Small Bird Debone; Wesley “Scott” Tucker, a former national accounts sales executive; and Justin Gay, a former director of Fresh Foodservice Sales. All of the defendants worked for Pilgrim’s Pride.

The indictments allege that McGuire and others conspired to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products. But the motion states that the charge is untimely.

“The grand jury returned the Indictment against Mr. McGuire on July 28, 2021. However, as acknowledged in the Indictment, Mr. McGuire left his job at PPC, and, for a time, the chicken industry as a whole, in May 2016 — two months before the outermost reach of the five-year statute of limitations applicable to Sherman Act offenses,” court documents state. “Under binding Tenth Circuit precedent, even if Mr. McGuire had been part of the alleged conspiracy — which he was not — his departure from PPC would be sufficient to constitute withdrawal.”

The motion goes on to state that the Department of Justice had ample time to file an indictment against McGuire, but instead chose to use him for the benefit of the agency’s investigation.

“Beginning in June 2020, and at the government’s request, Mr. McGuire voluntarily assisted the government’s investigation, including by explaining documents and offering background knowledge of the industry that was crucial for the government’s understanding of its own case,” court documents state. “The government never requested an agreement that would have tolled the statute of limitations during the pendency of Mr. McGuire’s assistance. It was only after more than a year of Mr. McGuire’s extensive cooperation that the government suddenly reversed course and belatedly decided to indict Mr. McGuire.

“The government made a deliberate, strategic choice to continue obtaining the benefit of Mr. McGuire’s assistance, rather than charging him, and the government is now bound by that decision. By playing Mr. McGuire both ways, the government now unreasonably expects him to stand trial on events that transpired nearly eight years ago.”

McGuire is asking the court to dismiss the case with prejudice. However, if the court decides against McGuire, his lawyers asked for a separate trial “…so that he is not prejudiced by the introduction of evidence postdating his alleged involvement in the conspiracy.”