A Justice Department plan to close Cleveland’s antitrust office and transfer its attorneys elsewhere has prompted local lawyers and legislators to work for its preservation.
Fines collected by the office far exceed its operating costs, and its closure will hinder prosecution of local and national price-fixing conspiracies.
The Cleveland office costs $3.2 million each year yet collected $159 million in fines over the past two years by proving collusion in the packaged ice industry and price-fixing in the refrigerant compressors industry.
Antitrust field offices like Cleveland’s are in a better position to work with state and local legal authorities and are better equipped to investigate regional complaints.
In Cleveland, twenty-one workers would be affected by the change. All would be offered jobs in other field offices or at the Justice Department’s headquarters in D.C.
The Justice Department is still weighing options. There is no time frame for a decision.