(CN) - Federal prosecutors say a California company will plead guilty to antitrust violations representing the first charges in an investigation of collusion among heir locators.
The information filed in Chicago on Dec. 23 charges Brandenburger & Davis, along with president Bradley Davis, of conspiring between 2003 and 2012 to eliminate competition in the heir-location-services industry.
Firms like Brandenburger identify people who may be entitled to an inheritance from the estate of a relative who died without a will.
In exchange for a share of such inheritances, heir-location-services firms help clients secure their family's estates.
Prosecutors say Brandenburger and its predident had been allocating customers with another heir-location firm.
"The defendants conspired for nearly a decade to enrich themselves at the expense of beneficiaries," Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a statement. "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."
In addition to cooperating in the continuing investigation, the guilty plea involves Brandenburger paying a criminal fine of $890,000.
Davis will reach a separate plea agreement in which the court will determine the sentence.
Prosecutors say their antitrust investigation remains ongoing "into customer allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the heir location services industry."
In addition to the Chicago prosecutors, the investigation includes help from the FBI's Salt Lake City division.
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