Tuna executive pleads guilty after price fixing

A former executive of a seafood company pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco Wednesday to conspiring to fix prices of package seafood such as tuna.

StarKist former Senior Vice President of Sales Stephen Hodge entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Edward Chen.

CORRECTION An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the company for which Stephen Hodge was employed. SFBay regrets the error.

Chen will hold a status conference next March to set a sentencing date.

San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods agreed in May to plead guilty to the same charge and pay a $25 million fine. The company is scheduled to enter its plea and be sentenced by Chen on Aug. 2.

Previously, Walter Cameron, Bumble Bee senior vice president of sales, and Kenneth Worsham, senior vice president of trade marketing, pleaded guilty to price-fixing conspiracy on Jan. 25 and March 15.

Their sentencing dates have not been set. The executives have agreed to pay unspecified fines.

The charges against the company and executives alleged they conspired with unnamed other business organizations and individuals.

The conspiracy operated from early 2011 through 2013, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The investigation is ongoing and Bumble Bee and their executives have agreed to cooperate, the department said.

Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Andrew Finch, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement:

“With today’s plea, the Antitrust Division continues to send a strong signal that senior executives will be held accountable for their actions.”

The investigation is being carried out by prosecutors and agents from the San Francisco offices of the Antitrust Division and the FBI.