FLANDERS, New Jersey — Oct. 27, 2015 — A former executive of a water treatment chemicals manufacturer has pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy that effectively eliminated competition in certain markets for more than a decade, according to a press release.

Frank A. Reichl, of Flanders, New Jersey, admitted that he had agreed not to compete for contracts for liquid aluminum sulfate, a coagulant used by municipalities to treat drinking and wastewater, and by pulp and paper companies in their manufacturing processes, the U.S. Department of Justice said this week in the release.

According to court documents, from 1997 until July 2010 Reichl and his co-conspirators met to discuss each other’s liquid aluminum sulfate business, submitted intentionally losing bids to favor the intended winner of the business, withdrew inadvertently winning bids and discussed prices to be quoted or bid to customers, noted the release.

“By agreeing not to disturb each other’s ‘historical’ business, Reichl and his co-conspirators cheated municipalities and paper companies out of competitive prices for their supplies of liquid aluminum sulfate, a key water treatment chemical,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in the release. “We continue to work with our partners at the FBI to hold offenders in this industry criminally accountable.”

Reichl is the first defendant to plead guilty to participating in the conspiracy, stated the release.

A violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals, reported the release. However, the maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine, the Justice Department noted.

You can find the entire release here.