Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Antittrust Feds Score Another Guilty Plea In Ongoing Probe Into Northern NJ Tax Lien Auction Bid-Rigging Scheme

From the U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.):

  • A New Jersey company in the business of receiving the assignment of municipal tax liens pleaded guilty [Wednesday] for its role in a conspiracy to rig bids for the sale of tax liens auctioned by municipalities in New Jersey, the Department of Justice announced.

    A felony charge was filed [Wednesday] in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark, against Mercer S.M.E. Inc., a company located in Burlington, N.J. According to the charges, from at least 2003 until approximately February 2009, Mercer, in conjunction with a nonprofit corporation and others participated in a conspiracy to rig bids at auctions for the sale of municipal tax liens in New Jersey.

    As part of the conspiracy, the co-conspirators agreed to allocate the liens on which each would bid. Among other things, Mercer was assigned tax liens it understood were purchased in accordance with the unlawful agreement.

    “The conspirators agreed to coordinate their bids and allocate the tax liens amongst themselves, at the expense of distressed property owners,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “Today’s guilty plea sends a message that those who profit from illegal, anticompetitive conduct will be held accountable.”
  • [Wednesday]’s plea is the 11th guilty plea resulting from an ongoing investigation into bid rigging or fraud related to municipal tax lien auctions. Eight individuals – Isadore H. May, Richard J. Pisciotta Jr., William A. Collins, Robert W. Stein, David M. Farber, Robert E. Rothman, Stephen E. Hruby and David Butler – and two companies, DSBD LLC and Crusader Servicing Corp., have previously pleaded guilty as part of this investigation.
For the Justice Department press release, see New Jersey Company Pleads Guilty for Role in Bid-Rigging Scheme at Municipal Tax Lien Auctions (Investigation Has Yielded 11 Guilty Pleas).

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