Monday, August 15, 2011

Sacramento Feds Continue Ringing Up Convictions In N. California Foreclosure Sale Bid Rigging Conspiracies

In Sacramento, California, The Modesto Bee reports:
  • A Tracy man on Friday pleaded guilty to conspiring with a group of real estate speculators who agreed not to bid against each other at public foreclosure auctions in San Joaquin County, the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento reported.

  • Real estate investor Walter Daniel Olmstead, 39, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to rig bids and commit mail fraud at the real estate foreclosure auctions. Olmstead participated in the scheme from November 2008 to July 2009, according to his plea agreement.

  • "By rigging public auctions of foreclosed properties, the defendants who have pleaded guilty as a result of this investigation illegally manipulated the market for residential real estate," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in a news release.

  • The conspiracy's primary purpose was to suppress and restrain competition and to obtain selected real estate at the foreclosure auctions at noncompetitive prices, according to court documents.

  • After the conspirators' designated bidder bought a property at a public auction, the conspirators would hold a private auction where they would bid a higher amount than the public auction price. The conspirator with the highest bid in the private auction got the property.

  • Federal prosecutors said the difference between the price at the public auction and at the private auction was the group's illicit profit. It was divided among the conspirators in payoffs.

  • As of Friday, seven people have pleaded guilty in connection with this investigation: Anthony Ghio, John Vanzetti, Theodore Hutz, Richard Northcutt, Yama Marifat and Gregory Jackson.

For the story, see Guilty plea in San Joaquin real estate fraud case.

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