WASHINGTON – An Iowa-based company pleaded guilty today to participating in a price-fixing conspiracy for the sales of ready-mix concrete, the Department of Justice announced.
According to a one-count felony charge filed on June 24, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Iowa, VS Holding Co., which formerly operated as Alliance Concrete Inc., a producer of ready-mix concrete with headquarters in Orange City, Iowa, participated in a conspiracy with another ready-mix concrete company to fix prices for ready-mix concrete sold in the northern district of Iowa. The department said the company participated in the conspiracy beginning at least as early as January 2006 and continuing until as late as January 2008.
Ready-mix concrete is a product comprised of cement, aggregate (sand and gravel), water and other additives. The concrete generally is produced in a concrete plant and is transported by concrete-mixer trucks to work sites, where it is used in various types of construction projects, including buildings and roads.
According to the court documents, Steven VandeBrake, the former president of VS Holding Co., participated in the conspiracy by engaging in discussions and reaching agreements regarding the conspirators’ prices for ready-mix concrete sold in the northern district of Iowa. VS Holding Co. then accepted payment for those sales at collusive and noncompetitive prices, the department said.
VS Holding Co. is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum fine of $100 million for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
Today’s plea is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation of the ready-mix concrete industry in Iowa and its surrounding states. As a result of the investigation, three individuals have been convicted and sentenced to serve prison time, and, including VS Holding Co., three ready-mix concrete companies have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Field Office, the FBI’s Sioux City Resident Agency and the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sioux City. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging, price fixing or territorial allocation related to the ready-mix concrete industry in Iowa and its surrounding states should contact the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Field Office at 312-353-7530 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.