Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael Kades Delivers Remarks at GCR Live: Law Leaders Global 2024
Today, a Texas man was convicted of obstructing a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation, following an eight-day trial in the Eastern District of Texas.
“Lying to federal agencies is a crime, plain and simple,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “And, as the court’s rulings in this case make clear, so is wage fixing. When obstruction affects the federal government’s investigations into labor market collusion and impedes our ability to protect workers, we will use all the tools available to prosecute all of these crimes to the full extent of the law.”
“Wage fixing causes tremendous harm to countless hardworking Americans,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to uncover this type of corruption and bring to justice anyone who is responsible or who obstructs our investigations into this conduct.”
Evidence introduced at trial showed that Neeraj Jindal obstructed an FTC investigation in 2017 into an alleged illegal agreement to fix rates paid to therapists for treating home health agency patients in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area. At the time, Jindal was the owner of a Texas-based therapist staffing company providing in-home physical therapy services.
The obstruction offense carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jindal was found not guilty on two other counts charged in the same indictment. John Rodgers, his co-defendant, was found not guilty on the three charges against him included in the indictment.
In November 2021, in denying a motion to dismiss, the court held that “price-fixing agreements — even among buyers in the labor market — have been per se illegal for years.” The court observed: “When the price of labor is lowered, or wages are suppressed, fewer people take jobs, which always or almost always tends to restrict competition and decrease output.” (internal citations omitted).
The Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section prosecuted the case, which was investigated with the FBI’s International Corruption Unit, with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.
The charges in this case were brought in connection with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing commitment to prosecute anticompetitive conduct affecting American labor markets. Anyone with information on market allocation or price fixing by employers should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.