Office of Public Affairs | Executive Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Monopolize, Rig Bids and Allocate Territories for Wildfire Services

The former owner of contractor companies that provided fuel truck services to the U.S. Forest Service’s wildfire fighters pleaded guilty today to conspiring to monopolize, rigging bids and allocating territories in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The plea follows a judicially authorized wiretap investigation that led to the indictment of two executives in December 2023.

According to a plea agreement and superseding information filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, Ike Tomlinson, 60, conspired with co-defendant Kris Bird, 61, and others in at least two conspiracies. First, from at least as early as March 2015 until about March 2023, Tomlinson conspired to rig bids — and allocate territories — in the market for wildfire-fighting fuel truck services for certain dispatch centers of the U.S. Forest Service’s Great Basin wildfire dispatch region.

Then, from at least as early as February 2020 until about March 2023, Ike Tomlinson and Kris Bird also conspired to monopolize that same market. As summarized in his plea agreement, Tomlinson and his co-conspirators sought to exclude competing vendors from the market and to maintain his power to price higher than he would have otherwise. In March 2023, for example, Tomlinson coordinated his bids with Bird to “squeeze,” “drown,” “punch,” “low ball” and de-prioritize two competing vendors on the Forest Service’s dispatch priority lists.

“Congress criminalized conspiracies to monopolize in 1890 to protect the American promise of free enterprise,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s guilty plea shows that the Justice Department and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) partners will deploy every appropriate law enforcement tool — including court-authorized wiretaps — to prosecute blatant monopolistic conduct that harms the public.”

“Agencies like the U.S. Forest Service rely on a fair bidding process to secure the best deal at the best price for taxpayers,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit for the District of Idaho. “When contractors collude rather than compete, they wrong the public and honest competitors who submitted bids fair and square.”

“The FBI will pursue and find those who would overcharge the federal government and submit false federal certifications,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Contractors who collude with their counterparts will be investigated and held accountable.”

“The defendant rigged prices of their fuel truck services, overcharging the U.S. Forest Service’s wildfire fighters,” said Assistant Director Michael D. Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Today’s plea agreement shows that there will be serious consequences for executives for conspiring against the federal government. The FBI and our partners are committed to ensuring the American government, and its taxpayers, are not victimized by criminal monopoly schemes.”

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 federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other relevant factors.

The Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho and FBI Salt Lake City Field Office, Boise Resident Agency investigated the case.

Trial Attorney Matthew Chou and Assistant Chief Christopher J. Carlberg of the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean M. Mazorol for the District of Idaho are prosecuting the case.

Anyone with information about this investigation or other procurement fraud schemes should notify the PCSF at The Justice Department created the PCSF in November 2019. It is a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. For more information, visit

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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