Health Care Staffing Executive Indicted for Fixing Wages of Nurses
A federal grand jury in Las Vegas returned an indictment yesterday charging a health care staffing executive with conspiring to fix the wages of Las Vegas nurses, in violation of the Sherman Act.
According to the one-count felony indictment, Eduardo Lopez, of Las Vegas, held executive positions at three different home health agencies. For each company, Lopez oversaw recruitment, hiring, retention and assignments of nurses and other health care staff. Lopez and other unnamed co-conspirators are charged with agreeing to suppress and eliminate competition for the services of nurses between March 2016 and May 2019. Specifically, Lopez and his co-conspirators are charged with participating in a series of meetings and communications to fix wages of nurses.
“Wage fixing is a crime that deprives workers of hard-earned wages,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division will be vigilant in protecting workers.”
“We will continue to partner with the Antitrust Division and the FBI to protect the marketplace and the rights of workers to earn fair wages,” said U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada. “We will investigate and prosecute those who engage in anticompetitive activities.”
“The wage fixing alleged in this case harmed hardworking Americans and cheated them of fair opportunity and compensation,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI is committed to rooting out anti-competitive activity and corruption.”
A violation of the Sherman Act carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals and a maximum penalty of a $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum.
Today’s announcement is the result of a federal investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the International Corruption Unit of the FBI, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.
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.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.