Southland To Pay $10 Million In Milk Price-Fixing Case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Southland Corp. has agreed to pay nearly $10 million to settle charges that a former division conspired with other producers to fix prices of milk sold to Florida public schools, Attorney General Bob Butterworth said today.
Butterworth said past and present officials of Velda Farms Dairy of Miami, formerly owned by the Dallas-based Southland, have acknowledged that the firm participated in price fixing.
Tom Hillstrom, a spokesman for Butterworth, said the settlement did not address the possibility of criminal charges against Velda officials. That issue, he said, ″will be dealt with on an individual basis depending on the amount of cooperation extended to the state.″
Southland, which must continue to help Butterworth litigate cases against six other milk producers as part of the settlement, sold Velda Dairy in April to Morning Star Inc. of Dallas. Morning Star is not mentioned in the civil action.
Butterworth said Southland’s top management was unaware of the bid rigging and he said it was the action of a few Velda Farms officials.
″Southland’s executives have expressed their regret that this activity occurred,″ said Butterworth. ″They have acted very responsibly since the charges were brought to their attention and have taken steps to make amends to the victimized school boards.″
Butterworth filed a federal antitrust lawsuit in February in Miami against the milk companies, charging them with unlawfully allocating contracts among themselves over 10 years for supplying milk to at least 32 of the state’s 67 school districts.