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From Antitrust Law Daily, January 14, 2016

Probate research firm president to plead guilty to allocating customers

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

A second plea deal has been reached in an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into the heir location services industry being conducted by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. Richard A. Blake Jr., the president of a Massachusetts-based heir location services provider, has agreed to plead guilty to allocating customers with another heir location services firm. A one-count information was filed today in the federal district court in Chicago (U.S. v. Blake, Criminal No.1:16-cr-00025).

Blake purportedly conspired with an unnamed competitor to eliminate competition in the heir location services industry from September 1999 through January 2014. The defendant agreed with the competitor to allocate customers to the co-conspirator company that first made an initial contact with the heir seeking the location services.

The case against Blake follows a plea agreement announced last month from a California-based company and the company's president to participating in the conspiracy. In that matter, Brandenburger & Davis and Bradley N. Davis agreed to plead guilty to the charge and to pay an $890,000 fine.

The latest charge does not name Blake's company. However, he is president of Braintree-based Blake & Blake Genealogists, Inc., according to the Better Business Bureau.

Assistant Attorney General Baer’s statement. “Here the death of a relative was used by heir location service firms to line their pockets at the expense of their clients,” said William Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division, in announcing the plea. “This announcement is another step in bringing to justice those who conspired to cheat heirs of those who died without a will.”

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