Former Sea Star Line President Frank Peake, convicted of price-fixing in the Puerto Rico domestic trade, has challenged sentencing guidelines he said would give him the longest prison term of anyone ever convicted of an antitrust violation.
In a document filed in U.S. District Court in San Juan, Peake’s attorneys said they “also will be filing a sentencing memorandum explaining why a non-incarcerative sentence is appropriate in this case.”
Peake’s sentencing had been scheduled for Aug. 23 but has been rescheduled for Sept. 19. He was convicted on Jan. 30 after a jury trial.
His attorneys said the federal probation office relied on prosecutors in recommending a sentencing guideline range that “would result in a sentence almost two times higher than any sentence in the history of United States antitrust cases.”
Five other former carrier executives — three from Sea Star and two from Horizon Lines — were sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to antitrust charges or to concealing evidence on a price-fixing conspiracy that lasted from 2002 until April 2008.
Peter Baci, former senior vice president of Sea Star, received a 48-month sentence in 2009 that was the longest ever imposed for a single antitrust violation.
Peake’s pre-sentencing report has not been made public, but the former Sea Star executive’s attorneys said the government inflated the impact of the antitrust conspiracy and his part in it when assigning points used to determine sentencing guidelines.
“The piling-on of guideline points for Mr. Peake is not legally or factually justified,” Peake’s lawyers argued.
They said prosecutors did not prove that commerce was affected by Peake’s participation in the price-fixing scheme, and that Peake “was not responsible for entering Sea Star into the conspiracy agreement, nor did he shape it, determine its scope, draw others in, or participate in its day-to-day implementation.”
Carriers Horizon Lines, Sea Star and Crowley have pleaded guilty to antitrust violations in the case, and agreed to pay millions of dollars in fines and civil settlements.
Tom Farmer, a former Crowley Liner Services vice president, was indicted in March on charges he participated in the price-fixing conspiracy between mid-2005 and 2008. He has asked to have have his case moved from San Juan to Jacksonville, Fla.