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Milk Cabal Hit By Heavy Fines

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Three of the nation's largest milk producers agreed last week to pay Florida a total of almost $14 million in civil penalties for conspiring to fix prices for the state's public schools.

The settlements bring the amount recovered by the state from seven dairy producers to a total of $32.2 million.

That amount is three times the overcharges paid by school districts during the period under investigation, a statement by Attorney General Bob Butterworth indicated.

Mr. Butterworth said the bulk of the money would be distributed to the affected school boards over the next two years.

The settlement is "the largest successful antitrust investigation in the nation's history for a single state acting on its own," according to Robert F. Lanzilotti, director of the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Florida Graduate School of Business Administration.

The companies in the latest round of settlements agreed to the following fines: Borden Inc., of Columbus, Ohio, $10.4 million; Kraft (Sealtest) of Chicago, $1.8 million; and Flav-O-Rich, of Louisville, Ky., $1.6 million.

The seven suppliers were accused of conspiracy in sales to public schools in 32 of Florida's 67 counties. (See Education Week, Feb. 24, 1988).

The attorney general's office is continuing its investigation.--pw

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