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Press Release

Fugitive Executive Pleads Guilty in Parking Heaters Price-Fixing Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A German national pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Michigan to leading a price-fixing conspiracy from 2007 to 2012 and was sentenced to time served.

Volker Hohensee, a German national and onetime Canadian resident who served as President of Espar Inc., a parking heater manufacturing company located in the United States and Canada, was indicted by a grand jury in December 2015. Hohensee fled Canada and remained a fugitive for five years. In December 2020, Hohensee was arrested while attempting to enter the Canary Islands and remained incarcerated in a Spanish facility until his plea today.

“The arrest, plea, and sentencing of Volker Hohensee is a prime example of the Antitrust Division’s commitment to bring fugitives to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The price that this defendant paid by choosing to flee — including five years of fugitive status and 15 months spent in the custody of Spanish law enforcement — serves as a cautionary tale for other defendants who contemplate running from a charge rather than facing it. Be assured that the Antitrust Division and our law enforcement partners — domestic and international — have the patience and tools to bring indicted defendants to justice.”

According to the one-count felony information describing the charge to which Hohensee pleaded guilty, Hohensee and his co-conspirators, including an executive at a competing company, worked together to artificially set aftermarket prices for parking heaters in the United States and elsewhere in North America. Parking heaters are devices that heat the interior compartment of a commercial motor vehicle independent of the operation of the vehicle’s engine. Hohensee and his co-conspirators met to discuss parking heater prices, agreed to set a price floor for parking heater kits and agreed to coordinate the timing and amount of price increases for parking heaters.

Two other executives, both German nationals, were indicted alongside Hohensee in 2015. Frank Haeusler is a former Vice President of Espar Inc.’s German affiliate, Eberspaecher, and a former executive of a competing company. Harald Sailer was a vice president at Eberspaecher. Both remain at large. In 2015, in the Eastern District of New York, Espar Inc. pleaded guilty to a price-fixing charge stemming from the same conspiracy and was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $14.9 million.

After accepting Hohensee’s guilty plea, the federal district court observed that Hohensee had served 15 months in Spain’s custody after being arrested, and sentenced him to time served.

The Justice Department expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by various enforcement agencies in Spain and the Canary Islands.

This case is the result of a federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing in the parking heaters market, conducted by the Antitrust Division and the FBI. The original charges, and today’s plea and sentencing, were handled by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office and the FBI’s New York Field Office. Assistance was provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging, or other anticompetitive conduct should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258 or visit

An indictment is merely an allegation and Haeusler and Sailer are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated March 3, 2022

Press Release Number: 22-185