President of Heir Location Services Provider to Plead Guilty for Agreement Not to Compete
Second Individual to Agree to Plead Guilty in Ongoing Investigation
The owner and President of a Massachusetts-based heir location services provider has agreed to plead guilty to allocating customers with another heir location services firm, the Department of Justice announced today.
Richard A. Blake Jr. will plead guilty to conspiring to eliminate competition in the heir location services industry between 1999 and 2014. Heir location services firms identify people who may be entitled to an inheritance from the estate of a relative who died without a will. The heir location services firms then help heirs secure their inheritances in exchange for a contingency fee paid out of the inheritances they are due to receive.
“Here the death of a relative was used by heir location service firms to line their pockets at the expense of their clients,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “This announcement is another step in bringing to justice those who conspired to cheat heirs of those who died without a will.”
Under the plea agreement, Blake and the department have jointly agreed to allow the court to determine an appropriate criminal sentence. In addition, Blake has agreed to assist the government in its ongoing investigation. The charge was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The terms of the plea agreement are subject to approval of the court.
The charge against Blake is the result of the division’s ongoing federal antitrust investigation into customer allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the heir location services industry being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Salt Lake City Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois.
Anyone with information concerning the focus of this investigation should contact the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office at 312-984-7200, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html, or call the FBI’s Salt Lake City office at 801-579-1400.