Two Individuals and Four Companies Indicted for Price Fixing DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs Sold on the Amazon Marketplace
A federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee, returned an indictment charging two individuals and four companies with participating in a conspiracy to fix prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs sold on the Amazon Marketplace.
According to the one-count felony indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Victor Btesh, of Brooklyn, New York, and Bruce Fish of Hayfield, Minnesota; along with BDF Enterprises Inc., a Minnesota corporation; Michelle’s DVD Funhouse Inc., a New York corporation; MJR Prime LLC, a New York corporation; and Prime Brooklyn LLC, a New York corporation, were charged with conspiring with each other and others to fix prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs sold through storefronts on the Amazon Marketplace. The price-fixing conspiracy was ongoing from at least as early as October 2016 until at least Oct. 29, 2019.
“This indictment – the fifth charge to date in the ongoing investigation – demonstrates our commitment to protecting consumers and prosecuting individuals who conspire to fix prices in online marketplaces,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
“Price-fixing conspiracies in online marketplaces harm consumers and will be prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
“This indictment shows that the FBI is dedicated to protecting American consumers from unfair prices in all areas of the marketplace,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate conspiracies to fix prices and hinder competition for all.”
“We are gratified to have contributed to this investigation and applaud the exceptional work by the investigative team for both protecting the individual consumer and the deterrence of activities in violation of the Sherman Act,” said Special Agent in Charge Ken Cleevely of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG). “Along with our law enforcement partners, the USPS OIG will continue to aggressively investigate those who would engage in this type of harmful conduct.”
The Amazon Marketplace is an e-commerce platform owned and operated by Amazon.com Inc. that enables third-party vendors to sell new or used products alongside Amazon’s own offerings.
Four other individuals have been previously charged and pleaded guilty in this ongoing investigation.
A criminal violation of the Sherman Act carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals, and 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 the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case, which was investigated with the assistance of the FBI’s New York Field Office and the USPS-OIG’s Contract Fraud Investigations Division.
Anyone with information concerning price fixing or other anticompetitive conduct related to the sale of DVDs, Blu-Rays Discs, or other products sold through Amazon Marketplace should contact the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office at 312-984-7200, Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html, FBI’s New York Field Office at 212-384-1000, or the USPS-OIG’s Fraud, Waste, & Misconduct Hotline at 888-877-7644.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.