The United States Department of Justice announced the indictment of a health care staffing executive for conspiring to fix wages of nurses.
A federal grand jury in Las Vegas returned a superseding indictment yesterday charging a health care staffing executive with conspiring to fix the wages of Las Vegas nurses — and then fraudulently concealing that conspiracy and the government’s investigation so that he could sell his company for over $10 million.
According to the six-count felony indictment, Eduardo Lopez, of Las Vegas, held executive positions at three different home health agencies. For each company, Lopez oversaw recruitment, hiring, retention and assignments of nurses and other health care staff. Count one of the superseding indictment charges Lopez and other unnamed co-conspirators with agreeing to suppress and eliminate competition for the services of nurses between March 2016 and May 2019.
Counts two through six of the superseding indictment charge Lopez with wire fraud. According to the indictment, in December 2021, Lopez sold his health care staffing company for over $10 million and falsely represented to the buyer of his company that federal law enforcement was not investigating him or his company. But, according to court documents, Lopez knew that was false. FBI special agents had questioned Lopez, served Lopez with a grand jury subpoena addressed to his company and seized his cell phone pursuant to a search warrant.
“Wage fixing hurts workers,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division will aggressively investigate and prosecute wage-fixing conspiracies and any fraudulent conduct aimed at keeping the illicit profits of such conspiracies.”
“Today’s superseding indictment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enforce federal antitrust laws and to ensure workers have an opportunity to compete for employment in a fair marketplace,” said U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada. “We will continue to work with the Antitrust Division and our law enforcement partners to protect the right of workers to earn a fair wage, and to root out wrongdoers who commit unlawful anticompetitive conduct.”
“The FBI and its partners will not tolerate the illicit practice of fixing wages,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “As today’s indictment shows, we will continue to pursue anyone engaging in fraudulent activity and combat any attempts made to evade the consequences of those actions.”
A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals and a maximum penalty of a $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum. A violation of the wire fraud statute carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s International Corruption Unit investigated the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.
The charges in this case were brought in connection with the Antitrust Division’s ongoing commitment to prosecute anticompetitive conduct affecting American labor markets. Anyone with information on market allocation or price fixing by employers should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.