The U.S. Justice Department has indicted Eduardo Lopez, a former hospice executive and current senior vice president of a private equity firm, for violations of the Sherman Act.
Lopez is charged with agreeing to “suppress and eliminate competition” for nursing services between March 2016 and May 2019, the U..S. Justice Department has indicated. The department did not name alleged co-conspirators involved in the case.
“Wage fixing is a crime that deprives workers of hard-earned wages. The Antitrust Division will be vigilant in protecting workers,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a statement.
The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits interference in trade and economic competition that attempt to monopolize any part of commerce areas, including health care. The most common violations of the law come in the forms of price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation activities among competitors in a sector, according to the Justice Department.
Lopez and his co-conspirators allegedly participated in a series of meetings and communications to fix wages of nurses.
Lopez held overlapping executive roles at multiple hospices in the Las Vegas area. At one point in his career, he held executive positions simultaneously at three different home health and hospice agencies, where he oversaw hiring, recruitment and retention of nurses and other health care workers.
The violations allegedly occurred while Lopez was vice president and administrator at a publicly traded home health, hospice and personal care company. He is currently employed by Golden EA Capital, a private equity firm.
He was vice president at Sierra Hospice & Home Health from 2018 to 2019, while holding the same position at Community Home Health Care Las Vegas from 2017 to 2021.
Between 2017 and 2019, Lopez served as both an administrator for Christian Hospice Las Vegas and executive director of development at Coveant Hospice Care and Coveant Kids Care. These were just some of Lopez’s other hospice executive positions.
The Justice Department to date has not implicated his current or former employers in any wrongdoing.
Charges in the case are related to the anti-competitive conduct regulations that impact labor markets.
A federal investigation is being conducted by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the International Corruption Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with assistance from the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.
“The wage fixing alleged in this case harmed hardworking Americans and cheated them of fair opportunity and compensation. The FBI is committed to rooting out anti-competitive activity and corruption,” Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division stated.
In addition to facing a $1 million fine for individuals and a $100 million fine for businesses, Sherman Act violations can lead to jail time, with a statutory maximum 10-year prison sentence. Fines may double in Sherman Act cases, depending on the amount gained by an organization or losses incurred by victims.