Two accused of bid rigging during 2018 auction in Allen County

SCOTTSVILLE, Ky. – Two real estate professionals could spend 10 years in a federal prison and pay up to a $1 million fine each after being accused of rigging bids at a 2018 Allen County farmland and timber rights auction.

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Kentucky indicted Barry Dyer and Mackie Shelton on one count each of antitrust conspiracy: bid rigging, according to the indictment.

They are accused of accepting a $40,000 payoff from competing auction participants to stop bidding which artificially held down the sales price of the Allen County farmland.

“Collusion and bid rigging at farmland auctions undermine our nation’s vital farming industry, robbing farmers and their families of a fair price for their land and artificially suppressing farmland values relied on for financing throughout the national Farm Credit System,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a release.

“The division has a long history of ensuring the integrity of real estate auctions and will continue to prosecute those who choose to break the law and line their own pockets at the expense of others. With support from our law enforcement partners, the Antitrust Division will hold accountable anyone who conspires to deprive the American farmer of competitive pricing – whether on the crops they sell or the farmland they use to grow them,” he said.

Dyer and Shelton are charged with a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.