KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The owner of a Sweetwater business has pleaded guilty to fixing prices of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs on Amazon Marketplace.
According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, David Camp and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition as early as May 2018 until at least Oct. 29, 2019. In doing so the group earned somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million.
Amazon Marketplace enables third-party vendors to sell new or used products alongside Amazon’s own offerings. Camp and others agreed to raise and maintain the prices in their online stores, a violation of the Sherman Act.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division says consumers deserve the benefits of competitive pricing no matter if it is in a traditional brick-and-mortar store or online.
“By their actions, the defendant and his co-conspirators denied purchasers of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs free and open competition, and instead lined their own pockets,” Powers said.
Camp is the first individual to be charged and the first individual to plead guilty in the ongoing investigation. A criminal violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.
The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
“Honest, competitive pricing of goods allows consumers to purchase products at fair market value, which provides an overall benefit to the individual customer and the market as a whole,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Partnering with competitors to fix prices of goods at higher-than-necessary rates removes this protection for consumers — it’s also illegal, whether it happens on an online platform or in a face-to-face transaction.
“Today’s guilty plea should remind other like-minded individuals that they will eventually have to answer for this type of behavior.”