Federal Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix denied defendant Mikell Fries request to go on an African safari before his trial next year for price-fixing, but she’s made her ruling a restricted document.
Why Mix’s motion denying the defense request for Fries to travel internationally will remain a secret is not known. It means the judge is not willing to share any reasoning she had with the public.
Before he was indicted for violating the Sherman Act, Fries had booked himself on a “once in a lifetime,” $37,000 safari to Tanzania. He is the president of Claxton Poultry Farm.
After U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer decided the trial will not begin until Feb. 16, 2021, defense attorneys for Fries filed what they acknowledged was “an unusual request” for their client to be out of the country for the last two weeks of August.
Federal defendants, including those who like Fries remain free on trial, usually face some travel restrictions. Defendants waiting for trial usually have to give up control of their U.S. passports.
By extensively documenting exactly where Fries would be during the two-week trip, and detailing his “deep business and personal ties to the United States,” attorneys argued that Fries is simply not a flight risk.
Adding to their “no risk” argument is the fact that Fries is the employer of 2,000 Georgians and his multi-generational family all reside there. An avid-hunter, Fries has also been allowed to possess firearms under conditions of his release.
While the Magistrate is keeping her reasons for denying the request a secret, the Department of Justice(DOJ) attorneys said any extradition from Tanzania wouldn’t be easy.
Fries and Claxton Vice President Scott Brady are charged with a Sherman Act violation involving bid-rigging and price-fixing from 2012 to 2017. They were accused along with Pilgrim’s Pride President Jayson Jeffrey Penn and Vice President Roger Austin.
The $37,000 spent on the safari is not refundable.
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