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Ex-Sea Star Line president guilty of price fixing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The former president of Sea Star Line LLC has been convicted of conspiring to fix the prices of shipping freight between the continental United States and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Sea Star had pleaded guilty in 2011, and was sentenced to pay a $14.2 million fine.

Its former president, Frank Peake, was convicted in Puerto Rico on Tuesday of conspiring with executives of other shipping companies to rig bids for shipping contracts and to set rates, the department said.

He was convicted after a two-week trial but was not immediately sentenced.

The price fixing ran at least from late 2005 to April 2008 and potentially affected such varied products as perishable foods and medicines and consumer goods.

"The coastal shipping price-fixing conspiracy affected the price of nearly every product that was shipped to and from Puerto Rico during the conspiracy," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division.

Sea Star and two other companies have been convicted of price fixing while six people have pleaded guilty or have been found guilty, the Justice Department said.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Howard Goller and Gerald E. McCormick)

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