Friday, May 25, 2012

Another Real Estate Investor Goes Down In Ongoing Federal Probe Into Foreclosure Auction Bid Rigging Racket

In Mobile, Alabama, the Press Register reports:

  • A local real estate investor last week became the latest businessman to acknowledge guilt in a years-long conspiracy to rig foreclosure auctions to artificially depress prices by limiting competition. Steven J. Cox, 58, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Sherman Antitrust Act and conspiracy to commit mail fraud from 2004 to at least 2010.

  • If Chief U.S. District Judge William Steele accepts the plea agreement, Cox will be sentenced to a year in prison at a minimum-security camp. He also would pay a $10,000 fine and make restitution in the amount of $82,101 to lien-holders who were cheated by the rigged auctions.

  • Cox also has agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation. Four other Mobile-area investors have pleaded guilty so far.

  • Cox and other members of the conspiracy would agree to designate one person to bid on properties at foreclosure auctions at the county courthouse, according to court records. After one investor would acquire property cheaply, according to court records, participants in the scheme would hold a secret second auction among themselves.

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