Former Coach USA Inc. Executive Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Obstruct Justice
A former executive of Coach USA Inc. was criminally charged with obstructing justice and pleaded guilty today for concealing and attempting to destroy documents relevant to a civil antitrust investigation and for providing false and misleading statements during the course of the litigation, the Department of Justice announced.
Ralph Groen, of North Carolina, the former vice president of information technology for Coach USA Inc., admitted to directing his subordinates to conceal and destroy documentary materials relevant to the investigation and providing false and misleading statements to Coach’s investigators, and the Antitrust Division, according to court documents filed in this case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Additionally, according to court documents, Groen admitted to denying the existence of backup practices and procedures during a deposition taken as part of the litigation.
“Simply put, executives who obstruct Antitrust Division investigations will be vigorously prosecuted,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “It is critical that the division has access to all relevant information to evaluate the potential harm to consumers of the conduct we investigate, and Groen’s actions in this case denied the division that access.”
“With today’s guilty plea, Mr. Groen took responsibility for concealing and destroying documents in a civil antitrust investigation and then lying about it,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI continues to work together with our partners to protect the integrity of our judicial system and ensure that those who make false and misleading statements under oath are held accountable criminally.”
The civil litigation, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, related to the New York City hop-on, hop-off tour bus market and challenged Coach USA Inc.’s and City Sights LLC’s formation of the Twin America LLC joint venture in 2009. On November 17, 2015, the district court entered a Final Judgment requiring Coach and City Sights to pay $7.5 million in disgorgement and to make divestitures to address the competitive harm alleged in the division's lawsuit.
This investigation into obstruction of justice is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258, visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Washington Office at 202-278-2000.