A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Texas returned a superseding indictment charging two Texas men with conspiring to fix prices by lowering rates paid to certain health care workers and then conspiring and endeavoring to obstruct a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of their conduct.
According to court documents, Neeraj Jindal and John Rodgers violated the Sherman Act by agreeing with co-conspirators in 2017 to pay lower rates to certain physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in north Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. At the time, Jindal was the owner and Rodgers was a clinical director of a Texas-based therapist staffing company providing in-home physical therapy services. The superseding indictment alleges their company paid lower rates for several months after entering into the agreement.
Additionally, Jindal and Rodgers are charged with conspiring to obstruct and make false statements in proceedings before the FTC and endeavoring to obstruct those proceedings. According to the superseding indictment, Jindal and Rodgers conspired and then made false and misleading statements and withheld and concealed information during the FTC’s investigation to determine whether their company or other therapist staffing companies violated the Federal Trade Commission Act. The superseding indictment follows an indictment against Jindal returned in December 2020.
“The charges announced today underscore the Antitrust Division’s ongoing commitment to enforcing antitrust laws, particularly when the victims are American workers who deserve the benefits of competitive wages, mobility, and competition among employers for their services,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “This prosecution also demonstrates how seriously we take our obligation to protect the integrity of investigations into anticompetitive conduct, whether those investigations are conducted by the Department of Justice or another agency.”
“Wage-fixing agreements are, at their core, an attempt to artificially rig the labor market to depress wages and deprive workers of competitive salaries and benefits,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei for the Eastern District of Texas. “The present charges demonstrate that the Department of Justice and its partner agencies will not stand by and allow the exploitation of American workers and the manipulation of the market.”
“Today’s charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to engage in corrupt practices at the expense of hard-working Americans,” said Assistant Director Calvin Shivers of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI is committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to uncover corruption and bring the individuals responsible to justice.”
A violation of the Sherman Act carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims if either amount is greater than $1 million. The charged obstruction offenses carry a statutory maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 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 Washington Criminal I Section is prosecuting the case, which was investigated with the assistance of the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section and the FBI’s International Corruption Unit.
The charges in this case were brought in connection with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing commitment to prosecute anticompetitive conduct affecting American labor markets. Anyone with information on market allocation or price fixing by employers should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.