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Milk Firms Pay $3.4 Million in Bid-Fixing Case

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Milk processors accused of bid-rigging have agreed to pay $3.4 million in settlements to 20 counties in northern Florida, bringing to $33.7 million the total recovered from milk firms statewide, Attorney General Bob Butterworth of Florida announced last week.

Mr. Butterworth said the latest settlement represents the end of the state's milk-sales investigation.

The firms were accused of taking part in a complex scheme that fixed milk sales to schools over several years. Sophisticated computer software was used to uncover the well-concealed conspiracy, Mr. Butterworth said.

In the latest settlement, each victimized school board will receive in damages at least three times the amount they were overcharged during the four years of violations that are covered under the federal statute of limitations.

The four milk firms affected are Barber Dairies Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., Dairy-Fresh Corp. of Greensboro, Ala., Kinnett Dairies Inc. of Columbus, Ga., and Bassett Dairy Products Inc. of Live Oak, Fla.

The Florida investigation led to separate investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and at least seven other states, including Alabama and Georgia, Mr. Butterworth said.

An earlier lawsuit covering 34 Florida counties led to the recovery of $32.2 million, including $2.3 million that was allocated to 20 school boards served by the defendant Borden Inc.--ps

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