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Judge gives U.S. a role in chicken price-fixing civil case as it pursues criminal probe

CHICAGO/NEW YORK, June 27 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday authorized the U.S. government to intervene in a long-running lawsuit in which customers accused Tyson Foods Inc , Pilgrim's Pride Corp and other poultry processors of conspiring to inflate chicken prices.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin in Chicago came after the Department of Justice said it had launched a criminal probe related to allegations of price-fixing, which the poultry processors have denied.

"The government's now in the case," Durkin said at a hearing. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)