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Prosecutors announce settlement in Catalina scuba-diving price fixing case

February 22, 2010 |  5:57 pm

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Monday that it settled an antitrust and unfair competition case involving scuba diving on Catalina Island.

John W. Mello, immediate past owner of Catalina Diver Supply, had been accused of colluding with another scuba shop owner in an attempt to fix prices of scuba-diving tours in Avalon, the district attorney said.

Without admitting liability, Mello agreed to pay $11,000 in legal costs, civil penalties and other costs stemming from the case, according to the district attorney.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mello is prohibited from engaging in any conduct involving fixing or attempted fixing of scuba business prices or soliciting other competitors to agree to fix prices, the district attorney said.

Kathleen Tuttle, deputy in charge of the district attorney's antitrust section, said the case was a "textbook example of attempted price fixing, among the most egregious forms of anti-competitive conduct."

-- Robert J. Lopez