Mrs Baird’s Found Guilty Of Price Fixing In East Texas
DALLAS (AP) _ Mrs Baird’s Bakeries Inc., the largest family-owned bakery in the nation, was found guilty today of fixing the price of bread in some small towns in Texas.
The jury deliberated over 3 1/2 days before finding that the company had sought to control the price of bread in the eastern part of the state.
It acquitted the company and its former president, Floyd Carroll Baird, on three other charges of price-fixing and bid-rigging, two of which dealt with West Texas.
Mrs Baird’s could be fined at least $10 million for the conviction. Sentencing is set for April 22.
``We’re very happy that the company’s former president was exonerated and the company was exonerated on the charges in West Texas,″ attorney R.H. Wallace said after the verdict. ``We’re disappointed that they found as they did on one count.″
Prosecutors said in their case that Mrs Baird’s tried to raise, fix and maintain the price of bread at more than 76 cents a loaf from 1977 to March of 1993.
Among the testimony jurors considered was that of Stanley Oler, a former Mrs Baird’s official who said he had shared pricing strategies with other competitors in East Texas.
One of Fort Worth’s corporate institutions, Mrs Baird’s was founded in 1908, when Ninnie Baird started baking bread for her Fort Worth neighbors to support her eight children.
The privately owned company now employs 3,000 people at 11 Texas plants. Annual sales have been estimated at more than $200 million. Many Baird family members remain involved in the business and Carroll Baird is a grandson of the founder.