Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
First Charges Brought in Investigation of Collusion Among Heir Location Services Firms
President and Company to Plead Guilty for Agreeing Not to Compete
The president and CEO of a California-based heir location services provider and his firm have agreed to plead guilty to allocating customers with another heir location firm, announced Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
Bradley N. Davis, president of Brandenburger & Davis, and his firm will plead guilty to conspiring between 2003 and 2012 to eliminate competition in the heir location services industry. Heir location services firms identify people who may be entitled to an inheritance from the estate of a relative who died without a will. The heir location services firms then help heirs secure their inheritances in exchange for a contingency fee paid out of the inheritances they are due to receive.
“The defendants conspired for nearly a decade to enrich themselves at the expense of beneficiaries,” said Assistant Attorney General Baer. “Heirs of relatives who died without a will deserve better. Working with the FBI and our other law enforcement partners, the Antitrust Division will continue to hold the leaders of companies that corrupt the competitive process accountable for their crimes.”
Brandenburger & Davis has agreed to pay an $890,000 criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy. In a separate plea agreement, Davis and the Antitrust Division have jointly agreed to allow the court to determine an appropriate criminal sentence. In addition, both the company and Davis have agreed to assist the government in its investigation. The charge was filed today in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. The terms of the plea agreements are subject to approval of the court.
Today’s charge is the first to result from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into customer allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the heir location services industry, being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and the FBI’s Salt Lake City Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois.