Antitrust Feds Run Up Score To 35 After Four More Real Estate Investors Agree To Plead Guilty In Ongoing Probe Into Northern California Foreclosure Sale Bid Rigging Rackets
From the U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.):
- Four Northern California real estate investors have agreed to plead guilty for their role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.
Felony charges were filed  in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland against Wesley Barta of Oakland, Irma Galvez of Pacheco, Calif., Stan Kahan of Berkeley, Calif., and Joseph Vesce of San Francisco.
To date, as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, 35 individuals, including Barta, Galvez, Kahan and Vesce, have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty.
“These conspirators manipulated and suppressed the competitive process through their fraudulent and collusive conduct to the detriment of lenders and distressed homeowners,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division will continue to pursue those responsible for these illegal activities.”
- The department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and restrain competition and to conceal payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at Alameda and Contra Costa County public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices.
When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner. According to court documents, these conspirators paid and received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties, and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner.