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Utah company, officer charged with criminal violation of antitrust laws

Published August 18, 2016 7:53 am

Courts • Attorney says heir-research company believes it did nothing to warrant indictment.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A federal grand jury has indicted a Salt Lake City company that researches heirs of estates and one of its officers for allegedly violating antitrust laws by conspiring with another company to divide up the market for their services.

The grand jury in Salt Lake City on Wednesday handed up a criminal indictment charging Kemp & Associates and officer Daniel J. Mannix with one count of violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

"Kemp & Associates and Dan Mannix firmly believe that they have done nothing wrong, and the company will continue to provide the important services to heirs that it has for over 50 years," said James A. Mitchell, the company's New York attorney, in a statement.

The company and Mannix conspired with Richard A. Blake Jr., the indictment alleges, and other unindicted and unnamed co-conspirators "to suppress and eliminate competition by agreeing to allocate customers of heir-location service sold in the United States."

Blake, owner of a Massachusetts-based company, pleaded guilty in March in federal court in Illinois to one count of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act and faces a possible prison sentence and a fine. As part of the plea deal, Blake agreed to cooperate with federal law officers in their ongoing investigation.

The charges against Blake stemmed from an FBI investigation in Chicago and Salt Lake City into price fixing, customer allocation, bid rigging and other anti-competitive practices in the heir-location-services industry, according to a news release. 

The Utah indictment says that from September 1999 to January 2014, Kemp & Associates, Mannix, Blake and others agreed to allocate customers and fees that harmed competition in the heir-location industry.





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