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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
WESTERN DIVISION


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,    

                  v.

CHAD VAN ZEE,

                  Defendant.


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Criminal No.: CR10-4108 MWB

Filed: 12/07/10

Violation: 15 U.S.C. § 1



PLEA AGREEMENT

The United States of America and Chad Van Zee ("defendant") hereby enter into the following Plea Agreement pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure ("Fed. R. Crim. P."):

RIGHTS OF DEFENDANT

1. The defendant understands his rights:

    (a) to be represented by an attorney;

    (b) to be charged by Indictment;

    (c) to plead not guilty to any criminal charge brought against him;

    (d) to have a trial by jury, at which he would be presumed not guilty of the charge and the United States would have to prove every essential element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt for him to be found guilty;

    (e) to confront and cross-examine witnesses against him and to subpoena witnesses in his defense at trial;

    (f) not to be compelled to incriminate himself;

    (g) to appeal his conviction, if he is found guilty; and

    (h) to appeal the imposition of sentence against him.

AGREEMENT TO PLEAD GUILTY
AND WAIVE CERTAIN RIGHTS

2. The defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives the rights set out in Paragraph 1(b)-(g) above. The defendant also knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to file any appeal, any collateral attack, or any other writ or motion, including but not limited to an appeal under 18 U.S.C. 3742 or a motion under 28 U.S.C. 2241 or 2255, that challenges the sentence imposed by the Court if that sentence is consistent with or below the recommended sentence in Paragraph 8 of this Plea Agreement, regardless of how the sentence is determined by the Court. This agreement does not affect the rights or obligations of the United States as set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3742(b). Nothing in this paragraph, however, shall act as a bar to the defendant perfecting any legal remedies he may otherwise have on appeal or collateral attack respecting claims of ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct. The defendant agrees that there is currently no known evidence of ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct. Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(b), the defendant will waive indictment and plead guilty at arraignment to a one-count Information to be filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. The Information will charge the defendant with participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices for sales of ready-mix concrete in the Northern District of Iowa beginning as early as January 2006 and continuing until as late as August 2009, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1.

3. The defendant, pursuant to the terms of this Plea Agreement, will plead guilty to the criminal charge described in Paragraph 2 above and will make a factual admission of guilt to the Court in accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P. 11, as set forth in Paragraph 4 below. The United States agrees that, at the arraignment, it will stipulate to the release of the defendant on his personal recognizance, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3142, pending the sentencing hearing in this case.

FACTUAL BASIS FOR OFFENSE CHARGED

4. Had this case gone to trial, the United States would have presented evidence sufficient to prove the following facts:

    (a) For purposes of this Plea Agreement, the "relevant period" is the period beginning as early as January 2006 and continuing until as late as August 2009. During the relevant period, the defendant was President of a ready-mix concrete company ("Company A"), an entity organized and existing under the laws of Iowa and with its principal place of business in Rock Valley, IA. During the relevant period, Company A was a producer of ready-mix concrete and was engaged in the sale of ready-mix concrete in the Northern District of Iowa and elsewhere.

    (b) During the relevant period, the defendant participated in a conspiracy with Steven Keith VandeBrake, an executive of Company B (and its predecessor entity), a company engaged in the sale of ready-mix concrete, the primary purpose of which was to fix prices for ready-mix concrete sold in the Northern District of Iowa. In furtherance of the conspiracy, the defendant engaged in meetings and conversations with VandeBrake. During such meetings and conversations, agreements were reached regarding the price of ready-mix concrete to be sold by their respective companies in the Northern District of Iowa.

    (c) During the relevant period, ready-mix concrete sold by one or more of the conspirator companies, equipment and materials necessary to the production and distribution of ready-mix concrete, as well as payments for ready-mix concrete, traveled in interstate commerce. The business activities of Company A and Company B (and its predecessor entity) in connection with the production and sale of ready-mix concrete that were the subject of this conspiracy were within the flow of, and substantially affected, interstate trade and commerce.

    (d) Acts in furtherance of this conspiracy were carried out within the Northern District of Iowa. Ready-mix concrete that was the subject of this conspiracy was sold by one or more of the conspirators to customers in this District.

POSSIBLE MAXIMUM SENTENCE

5. The defendant understands that the statutory maximum penalty which may be imposed against him upon conviction for a violation of Section One of the Sherman Antitrust Act is:

    (a) a term of imprisonment for ten (10) years (15 U.S.C. 1);

    (b) a fine in an amount equal to the greatest of (1) $1 million, (2) twice the gross pecuniary gain the conspirators derived from the crime, or (3) twice the gross pecuniary loss caused to the victims of the crime by the conspirators (15 U.S.C. 1; 18 U.S.C. 3571(b) and (d)); and

    (c) a term of supervised release of three (3) years following any term of imprisonment. If the defendant violates any condition of supervised release, the defendant could be required to serve up to two (2) years in prison (18 U.S.C. 3559(a)(3); 18 U.S.C. 3583(b)(2) and (e)(3); and United States Sentencing Guidelines ("U.S.S.G.," "Sentencing Guidelines," or "Guidelines") 5D1.2(a)(2)).

6. In addition, the defendant understands that:

    (a) pursuant to U.S.S.G. 5E1.1 or 18 U.S.C. 3663(a)(3) or 3583(d), the Court may order him to pay restitution to the victims of the offense; and

    (b) pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3013(a)(2)(A), the Court is required to order the defendant to pay a $100 special assessment upon conviction for the charged crime.

SENTENCING GUIDELINES

7. The defendant understands that the Sentencing Guidelines are advisory, not mandatory, but that the Court must consider the Guidelines in effect on the day of sentencing, along with the other factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), in determining and imposing sentence. The defendant understands that Guidelines determinations will be made by the Court by a preponderance of the evidence standard. The defendant understands that although the Court is not ultimately bound to impose a sentence within the applicable Guidelines range, its sentence must be reasonable based upon consideration of all relevant sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a).

SENTENCING AGREEMENT

8. Pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(B), and subject to the defendant's ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation as described in Paragraph 12 of this Plea Agreement, the United States agrees that it will recommend as the appropriate disposition of this case that the Court impose a sentence requiring the defendant to pay to the United States a criminal fine of $50,000, payable in full before the fifteenth (15th) day after the date of judgment; and a period of imprisonment of eight (8) months ("the recommended sentence"). The defendant is free to argue for any sentence under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), except the defendant agrees that a fine in the amount of $50,000 is appropriate. The parties agree that the following Guidelines calculations apply in this case:

    a. The base guideline is U.S.S.G. 2R1.1, with a base offense level of 12.

    b. Pursuant to U.S.S.G. 2R1.1(b)(2), the base offense level is increased by 2 levels because the volume of commerce attributable to the defendant is more than $1 million but not more than $10 million.

    c. Pursuant to U.S.S.G. 3E1.1(a), the offense level is decreased by 2 levels for defendant's acceptance of responsibility. The resulting offense level would therefore be 12.

    d. The parties are not aware of any information which would impact the defendant's criminal history category. If no other information is discovered, the defendant's criminal history category would be I. The parties understand that the defendant's criminal history category is determined by the Court.

    e. Pursuant to U.S.S.G. 5E1.2(b) and 2R1.1(c)(1), the Guidelines Fine Range for an individual is one to five percent of the volume of commerce, but not less than $20,000.

    f. The defendant understands that the Court will order him to pay a $100 special assessment, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.  3013(a)(2)(A), in addition to any fine imposed.

The parties agree that there exists no aggravating or mitigating circumstance of a kind, or to a degree, not adequately taken into consideration by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in formulating the Sentencing Guidelines, that would justify a departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. 5K2.0. The parties agree not to seek or support any Guidelines adjustment for any reason that is not set forth in this Plea Agreement. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to limit the defendant's ability to argue for any sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), except the defendant agrees that a fine in the amount of $50,000 is appropriate.

9. The United States and the defendant agree that the applicable Guidelines fine and imprisonment ranges exceed the fine and term of imprisonment contained in the recommended sentence set out in Paragraph 8 above. Subject to the ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation of the defendant, as described in Paragraph 12 of this Plea Agreement, and prior to sentencing in this case, the United States agrees that it will make a motion, pursuant to U.S.S.G. 5K1.1, for a downward departure from the Guidelines imprisonment range, and request that the Court impose the fine and term of imprisonment contained in the recommended sentence set out in Paragraph 8 of this Plea Agreement because of the defendant's substantial assistance in the government's investigation and prosecutions of violations of federal criminal law in the ready-mix concrete industry. With a U.S.S.G. 5K1.1 departure, the United States anticipates that the resulting offense level will be ten.

10. Subject to the ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation of the defendant, as described in Paragraph 12 of this Plea Agreement, and before sentencing in the case, the United States will fully advise the Court and the Probation Office of the fact, manner, and extent of the defendant's cooperation, and his commitment to prospective cooperation with the United States' investigation and prosecutions, all material facts relating to the defendant's involvement in the charged offense, and all other relevant conduct. To enable the Court to have the benefit of all relevant sentencing information, the United States may request, and the defendant will not oppose, that sentencing be postponed until his cooperation is complete.

11. The United States and the defendant understand that the Court retains complete discretion to accept or reject either party's sentencing recommendation provided in Paragraph 8 of this Plea Agreement. The defendant understands that, as provided in Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(3)(B), if the Court does not impose a sentence consistent with either party's sentencing recommendation contained in this Agreement, he nevertheless has no right to withdraw his plea of guilty.

DEFENDANT'S COOPERATION

12. The defendant will cooperate fully and truthfully with the United States in the prosecution of this case, the conduct of the current federal investigation of violations of federal antitrust and related criminal laws involving the manufacture or sale of ready-mix concrete in the state of Iowa, any other federal investigation resulting therefrom, and any litigation or other proceedings arising or resulting from any such investigation to which the United States is a party ("Federal Proceeding"). The ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation of the defendant shall include, but not be limited to:

    (a) producing all non-privileged documents, including claimed personal documents and materials, wherever located, in the possession, custody, or control of the defendant, requested by attorneys and agents of the United States;

    (b) making himself available for interviews, not at the expense of the United States, upon the request of attorneys and agents of the United States;

    (c) responding fully and truthfully to all inquiries of the United States in connection with any Federal Proceeding, without falsely implicating any person or intentionally withholding any information, subject to the penalties of making false statements (18 U.S.C. 1001) and obstruction of justice (18 U.S.C. 1503, et seq.);

    (d) otherwise voluntarily providing the United States with any non-privileged material or information, not requested in (a) - (c) of this paragraph, that he may have that is related to any Federal Proceeding; and

    (e) when called upon to do so by the United States in connection with any Federal Proceeding, testifying in grand jury, trial, sentencing, and other judicial proceedings, fully, truthfully, and under oath, subject to the penalties of perjury (18 U.S.C. 1621), making false statements or declarations in grand jury or court proceedings (18 U.S.C. 1623), contempt (18 U.S.C. 401 - 402), and obstruction of justice (18 U.S.C. 1503, et seq.).

GOVERNMENT'S AGREEMENT

13. Subject to the ongoing, full, and truthful cooperation of the defendant, as described in Paragraph 12 of this Plea Agreement, and upon the Court's acceptance of the guilty plea called for by this Plea Agreement and the imposition of sentence, the United States will not bring further criminal charges against the defendant for any act or offense committed before the date of this Plea Agreement that was undertaken in furtherance of an antitrust conspiracy involving the manufacture or sale of ready-mix concrete in the Northern District of Iowa ("Relevant Offense"). The nonprosecution terms of this paragraph do not apply to civil matters of any kind, to any violation of the federal tax or securities laws, or to any crime of violence.

14. The defendant understands that he may be subject to administrative action by federal or state agencies other than the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, based upon the conviction resulting from this Plea Agreement, and that this Plea Agreement in no way controls whatever action, if any, other agencies may take. However, the United States agrees that, if requested, it will advise the appropriate officials of any governmental agency considering such administrative action of the fact, manner, and extent of the cooperation of the defendant as a matter for that agency to consider before determining what administrative action, if any, to take.

REPRESENTATION BY COUNSEL

15. The defendant has reviewed all legal and factual aspects of this case with his attorney and is fully satisfied with his attorney's legal representation. The defendant has thoroughly reviewed this Plea Agreement with his attorney and has received satisfactory explanations from his attorney concerning each paragraph of this Plea Agreement and alternatives available to the defendant other than entering into this Plea Agreement. After conferring with his attorney and considering all available alternatives, the defendant has made a knowing and voluntary decision to enter into this Plea Agreement.

VOLUNTARY PLEA

16. The defendant's decision to enter into this Plea Agreement and to tender a plea of guilty is freely and voluntarily made and is not the result of force, threats, assurances, promises, or representations other than the representations contained in this Plea Agreement. The United States has made no promises or representations to the defendant as to whether the Court will accept or reject the recommendations contained within this Plea Agreement.

VIOLATION OF PLEA AGREEMENT

17. The defendant agrees that, should the United States determine in good faith, during the period that any Federal Proceeding is pending, that the defendant has failed to provide full and truthful cooperation, as described in Paragraph 12 of this Plea Agreement, or has otherwise violated any provision of this Plea Agreement, the United States will notify the defendant or his counsel in writing by personal or overnight delivery or facsimile transmission and may also notify his counsel by telephone of its intention to void any of its obligations under this Plea Agreement (except its obligations under this paragraph), and the defendant shall be subject to prosecution for any federal crime of which the United States has knowledge including, but not limited to, the substantive offenses relating to the investigation resulting in this Plea Agreement. The defendant agrees that, in the event that the United States is released from its obligations under this Plea Agreement and brings criminal charges against the defendant for any Relevant Offense, the statute of limitations period for such offense shall be tolled for the period between the date of the signing of this Plea Agreement and six (6) months after the date the United States gave notice of its intent to void its obligations under this Plea Agreement.

18. The defendant understands and agrees that in any further prosecution of him resulting from the release of the United States from its obligations under this Plea Agreement based on the defendant's violation of the Plea Agreement, any documents, statements, information, testimony, or evidence provided by him to attorneys or agents of the United States, federal grand juries, or courts, and any leads derived therefrom, may be used against him in any such further prosecution. In addition, the defendant unconditionally waives his right to challenge the use of such evidence in any such further prosecution, notwithstanding the protections of Fed. R. Evid. 410.

ENTIRETY OF AGREEMENT

19. This Plea Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the United States and the defendant concerning the disposition of the criminal charge in this case. This Plea Agreement cannot be modified except in writing, signed by the United States and the defendant.

20. The undersigned attorneys for the United States have been authorized by the Attorney General of the United States to enter this Plea Agreement on behalf of the United States.

DATED: 11-29-10

 

BY: _______________/s/________________
Chad Van Zee
Defendant


_______________/s/________________
Mark Thornhill
Counsel for Chad Van Zee

Respectifully submitted,

 

BY: _______________/s/________________
André M. Geverola
Robert Jacobs
L. Heidi Manschreck
Attorneys
U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division
209 S. LaSalle St., Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel: (312) 353-7530