Chicago, Illinois - Mr. David’s Flooring International LLC (Mr. David’s), a Chicago-based commercial flooring contractor, pleaded guilty after being charged for its role in a long-running conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices for commercial flooring products and services, and for its role in a money laundering conspiracy involving kickbacks.
Mr. David’s agreed to pay at least a $1.2 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracies. Mr. David’s is the third corporation charged in the ongoing investigation; five individuals have also been charged to date.
“We remain committed to prosecuting those who choose to subvert the competitive process and eliminate competition,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s guilty plea — the eighth charge to date in the ongoing investigation — demonstrates our commitment to protect consumers and ensure they benefit from a competitive marketplace.”
“Price fixing has no place in a fair and open marketplace,” said Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Division. “This guilty plea is another example of our firm commitment to safeguarding American citizens and businesses.”
According to a two-count felony charge filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Illinois, Mr. David’s conspired with other companies to rig bids for commercial flooring by agreeing which company would win the bid, and which would submit a complementary, intentionally-losing bid. Mr. David’s participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as 2009 until at least June 22, 2017.
The second count charges Mr. David’s with conspiring to launder money to conceal kickback payments the company made to Carter Brett, an account executive for a large flooring manufacturer, in exchange for unauthorized discounts. According to the charge, Mr. David’s issued checks to a shell corporation established by Brett for the sole purpose of receiving the illegal kickback payments, and Mr. David’s and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy from at least as early as 2013 until as late as June 13, 2018.
A violation of the Sherman Act carries a statutory maximum penalty of a $100 million criminal 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. Conspiring to commit money laundering carries a statutory maximum penalty of $500,000. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering transactions, if that amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
The charges are the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into bid rigging, price fixing and other anticompetitive conduct in the commercial flooring industry conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Chicago Field Division.