Investors Rudolph Silva, Thomas Bishop and Leslie Gee agreed to plead guilty to felony charges related to the conspiracy. To date, 43 people have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into foreclosure auction bid-rigging in Northern California, according to the FBI.
Prosecutors say that Silva, Bishop and Gee conspired with others between 2008 and 2011 to influence the outcome of foreclosure auctions. The conspirators agreed not to bid against each other, but instead to pre-select a winning bidder to obtain the properties. Silva, Bishop and Gee were also charged with mail fraud in connection with a scheme to fraudulently acquire titles for certain properties, make and receive payoffs, and divert money to their co-conspirators that should have gone to mortgage holders. Silva, Thomas and Gee were also charged with holding second, private auctions open only to members of their conspiracy, the FBI stated.
“Today’s plea agreements are the latest step in the Antitrust Division’s efforts to hold accountable investors for their fraudulent and collusive activities at real estate foreclosure auctions,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The division will continue to prosecute individuals who participated in illegal conspiracies and harmed distressed homeowners and lenders.”
Three California real estate investors have agreed to plead guilty in connection with a conspiracy to rig bids at foreclosure auctions, according to the FBI.