The president of a Billings-based asphalt company has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of illegally monopolizing the market
for highway crack-sealing services in Montana and Wyoming.
Nathan Nephi Zito pleaded guilty to one count of attempted monopolization in federal court, which violates the Sherman Act, the country's primary anti-trust law, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Zito is the president of Z&Z Asphalt, according to his LinkedIn page.
Prosecutors stated in court documents that Zito had approached a competitor about a "strategic partnership" where the other business would stop competing for crack-sealing projects administered by the states of Montana and Wyoming. In return, Zito promised to stop competing for bids in South Dakota and Nebraska and offered an additional $100,000 in compensation.
Zito also proposed entering into a sham transaction to disguise the collusion, prosecutors stated.
Jesse Laslovich, the U.S. attorney for the District of Montana, said in a news release that Zito's action harm taxpayers because they drive up the cost of infrastructure by undercutting public bidding.
Zito initially pleaded guilty on Oct. 14, and it was accepted by a U.S. District Court judge in Montana Monday.
He faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.