Real Estate Investor Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Rigging Bids at Northern California Public Foreclosure Auctions

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A real estate investor was sentenced today for his role in conspiracies to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Michael Marr was charged on Nov. 19, 2014, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California.  He was convicted on June 2, 2017, of conspiring to rig bids at foreclosure auctions in Alameda and Contra Costa County.  Today, Marr was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and to serve 3 years of supervised release.  In addition to his term of imprisonment, Marr was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $1,397,061.59.

“Michael Marr was a driving force behind a multi-year conspiracy to corrupt the public foreclosure auction process through a system of illegal payoffs,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of that crime.”

The evidence at trial showed that the defendant conspired with others to rig bids to obtain hundreds of properties sold at foreclosure auctions.  The conspirators designated the winning bidders to obtain selected properties at the public auctions, and negotiated payoffs among themselves in return for not competing with one another.  They subsequently conducted private auctions among themselves at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held, awarding the properties to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in those private auctions.

As the CEO of Community Fund, LLC and Community Realty Property Management Inc., Marr sent multiple employees to the foreclosure auctions to rig bids on his behalf.  As part of the conspiracies, Marr’s agents purchased several hundred properties through the bid-rigging conspiracies and were owed payoffs on hundreds more.

When real estate properties are sold at public auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with the remaining proceeds paid to the homeowner.

The sentence is a result of an ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in California’s San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300 or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.

Mississippi Real Estate Investors Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Rig Bids at Public Foreclosure Auctions

Thursday, February 15, 2018

First Convictions in Mississippi Real Estate Foreclosure Auctions Investigation

Two real estate investors pleaded guilty today for their roles in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Mississippi, the Department of Justice announced.

“Shannon and Jason Boykin are the first two defendants to plead guilty in the Antitrust Division’s active, ongoing investigation into anticompetitive behavior at real estate foreclosure auctions in Mississippi,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “In the past few years, the Division has secured convictions of over 100 individuals around the country.  The Division remains committed to rooting out anticompetitive conduct at foreclosure auctions.”

Felony charges against Shannon Boykin and Jason Boykin were filed on February 1, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.  According to court documents, from at least as early May 22, 2012, through at least as late as March 22, 2017, Jason and Shannon Boykin conspired with others to rig bids, designating a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in the Southern District of Mississippi. Co-conspirators made and received payoffs in exchange for their agreement not to bid.

“Rigging, cheating and swindling foreclosure auctions undermines confidence in the marketplace, defrauds companies, and hurts owners of foreclosed homes.  These criminal actions harm us all, and I commend the Antitrust Division and the FBI for their investigation and prosecution of these crimes throughout the country. This office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat illegal, anticompetitive behavior and protect victims,” said United States Attorney D. Michael Hurst, Jr. for the Southern District of Mississippi.

“The criminal actions of the defendants in this case provide a clear example of why enforcement of the Sherman Act remains necessary in maintaining a competitive field of commerce,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze of the FBI in Mississippi. “The FBI will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division in identifying such financial schemes that attempt to take advantage of the competitive process, including schemes targeting foreclosure auctions.”

The Department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress and restrain competition in order to obtain selected real estate offered at 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 in connection with their agreement to suppress competition, which artificially lowered the price paid at auction for such homes.

A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for a Sherman Act charge may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section and the FBI’s Gulfport Resident Agency, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact Antitrust Division prosecutors in the Washington Criminal II Section at 202-598-4000, or visit https://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.

The 3C’s: Antitrust Division to Hold Roundtable on Criminal Antitrust Compliance

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From the Press Release (here):

On April 9, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division will hold a public roundtable discussion to explore the issue of corporate antitrust compliance and its implications for criminal antitrust enforcement policy.

The roundtable will provide a forum for the Antitrust Division to engage with inside and outside corporate counsel, foreign antitrust enforcers, international organization representatives, and other interested parties on the topic of antitrust compliance.  Participants will discuss the role that antitrust compliance programs play in preventing and detecting antitrust violations, and ways to further promote corporate antitrust compliance.  The format of the program will be a series of panel discussions with featured speakers.  Audience participation in the discussions will be encouraged.

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Justice Department Reaches Settlement With Henry Ford Allegiance Health on Antitrust Charges

Friday, February 9, 2018

Settlement Prohibits Allegiance from Agreeing to Limit Marketing and Improperly Communicating with Competing Providers

The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with Henry Ford Allegiance Health (“Allegiance”) for conspiring with a rival hospital in a neighboring county to restrict marketing in that rival’s county.  The settlement ends almost three years of litigation and a scheduled March 6 trial relating to agreements to restrict marketing among hospitals in South Central Michigan.

“As a result of Allegiance’s per se illegal agreement to restrict marketing of competing services in Hillsdale County, Michigan consumers were deprived of valuable services and healthcare information,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “By prohibiting further anticompetitive conduct and educating Allegiance executives on antitrust law, this settlement will ensure that consumers receive the fruits of robust competition.”

The proposed settlement, joined by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  If approved by the court, the settlement will end Allegiance’s unlawful conduct and provide residents of South Central Michigan the full benefits of competition.  The Department’s Antitrust Division previously settled claims against three other South Central Michigan hospitals.  The Department charged Allegiance and these other hospitals with insulating themselves from competition by agreeing to withhold outreach and marketing in each other’s respective counties, so as not to solicit certain customers.  As a result, consumers were denied the benefits of competition, including free screenings and other services, as well as valuable information that informs healthcare choices and opportunities for higher quality care.

The Department’s proposed settlement with Allegiance expands on the terms of the Department’s previous settlements in this action, which the court entered more than two years ago.  Specifically, the proposed settlement prevents Allegiance from engaging in improper communications with competing providers regarding their respective marketing activities and entering into any improper agreement to allocate customers or to limit marketing.  It explicitly prevents Allegiance from continuing to carve out Hillsdale County from its marketing and business development activities.  The proposed settlement further requires Allegiance to report any violations to the Department, and imposes an annual obligation to certify compliance with the terms of the final judgment.  Allegiance must also submit to compliance inspections at the Department’s request.  The proposed settlement requires Allegiance to reimburse the Department and the state of Michigan for certain costs incurred in litigating this case.

Pursuant to Department policy, the settlement includes several new provisions included in all consent decrees designed to improve the effectiveness of the decree and the Division’s future ability to enforce it.  “The proposed settlement will make it easier and more efficient for the Department to enforce the decree by allowing the Department to prove alleged violations by a preponderance of the evidence,” said Assistant Attorney General Delrahim.  “These provisions will encourage a stronger commitment to compliance and will ease the strain on the Department in investigating and enforcing possible violations.”  Similar provisions have been included in a number of recent consent decrees where the Department’s new leadership has sought divestitures as a condition of clearing transactions under Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

Henry Ford Allegiance Health is a 475-bed health system that operates the sole general acute care hospital in Jackson County, Michigan, along with primary care physician offices, physical rehabilitation facilities, and diagnostic centers across several counties in South Central Michigan.  In March 2016, Allegiance became part of the Henry Ford Health System.  Henry Ford Health System is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, and is the second largest health system in Michigan, operating Allegiance, five other hospitals, several medical centers, and one of the nation’s largest medical group practices.  Its 2016 revenues were over $5 billion.

The proposed settlement, along with the Department’s competitive impact statement, will be published in the Federal Register, consistent with the requirements of the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act.  Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed settlement within 60 days of its publication to Peter Mucchetti, Chief, Healthcare & Consumer Products Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20530.  At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the court may enter the final judgment upon a finding that it serves the public interest.

Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division Announces New Roundtable Series on Competition and Deregulation

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division will hold a series of three public roundtable discussions to explore the relationship between competition and regulation, and its implications for antitrust enforcement policy. The first roundtable will occur on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 in the Great Hall of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST. The tentative agenda of the first roundtable can be found below.

The series of roundtable discussions will help the Department pursue effective and appropriate competition policy and identify related regulatory burdens on the American economy. The first roundtable will examine exemptions and immunities from the antitrust laws, and their impact on the free market and consumers. It will also include a discussion of the appropriate role of the state action doctrine in light of the broader federal policy favoring competition in interstate commerce.

“Our nation’s antitrust laws contribute to a well-functioning free market economy, and appropriate enforcement minimizes the need for burdensome regulatory intervention in the free markets,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. “Broad, bipartisan agreement for over half a century recognizes that the unrestrained interaction of competitive forces yields the best allocation of economic resources, the lowest prices, the highest quality, and the most innovation. I look forward to a robust exchange of ideas on these important topics.”

The roundtables will provide a forum for industry participants, academics, think tanks, and other interested parties to discuss the economic and legal analyses of competition and deregulation. The Antitrust Division plans to invite panelists from a variety of organizations, including American Antitrust Institute, American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law, American Enterprise Institute, Association of Corporate Counsel, Business Roundtable, Cato Institute, Consumers Union, Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, National Association of Attorneys General, Open Markets Institute, Public Knowledge, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Department of Justice welcomes comments in advance of each of the roundtables. The Department will accept public comments (not to exceed 20 pages) regarding the first roundtable until March 13, 2018. Interested parties may submit comments to: CompReg1@atr.usdoj.gov. Submitted comments will be made publicly available on the Department of Justice website.

The second roundtable, which will focus on antitrust consent decrees, will be held on April 26, 2018. The third roundtable will be held on May 31, 2018, and will assess the consumer costs of anticompetitive regulations. Agendas for upcoming roundtables will be posted on the Department of Justice website, along with instructions for submitting public comments for those roundtables.

The roundtables will be open to the public. Individuals wishing to attend must register for each roundtable on the Department’s website, at http://www.justice.gov/atr/CompReg/.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests should be submitted via email to Jeremy Edwards in the Office of Public Affairs at Jeremy.M.Edwards@usdoj.gov or by calling 202-307-2016. Requests should be made in advance. Please include a detailed description of the accommodation needed and provide contact information.

CCC’s: Recommended Article/Book About Tom Hayes and the LIBOR Scandal

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I recommend reading an interview with author David Enrich who wrote a book “The Spider Network:  The Wild Story of a Math Genius, and a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, And One of The Greatest Scams in Financial History.”  Below are excerpts of comments made by Mr. Enrich during the interview, “What’s Behind One of the Biggest Financial Scams in History.”  The interview appeared on February 19, 2017 in Knoweldge@Wharton.[1]

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  • “The mastermind of the LIBOR scandal was a guy named Tom Hayes, a mildly autistic mathematician who was a star trader at some of the world’s biggest banks.”
  • “[m]y iPhone buzzed with a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. And it said, “This goes much, much higher than me. Not even the Justice Department knows the full story. I’m willing to talk to you, but I need to make sure I can trust you.” It was Tom Hayes.”
  • “He felt like he was doing something that was really just false and misleading. And he took solace in the fact that the bosses knew about and generally approved of what he was doing. But as most of us learn from a very early age, just because everyone is doing something bad doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to do something bad yourself. That’s a message that was really lost on an entire generation of people in the financial industry, I think.”
  • “And prosecutors, instead of going after people at the top of the food chain — the CEOs and business leaders who are responsible for setting the culture at their institution, responsible for in many cases the practices of their institutions — instead of going after those guys, they uniformly went after a small group of relatively low-level people. Don’t get me wrong, Hayes in particular did things that were wrong, he knew they were wrong, or at least should have known they were wrong, and deserves to be punished. But what is crazy to me is that Tom Hayes is currently serving an 11-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. And as far as I can tell, he is the only banker currently in jail for crimes committed during the financial crisis.”
  • “The thing is, prosecutors do not like to lose cases, so they’ve taken, in general, a very conservative approach to what cases they’re going to bring because they don’t want to gamble on losing. They’ve built up these very impressive win/loss records as prosecutors. Some of them are undefeated. And they boast about that.”
  • “To me, that’s a really unhealthy sign, because the thing that would scare some of these bank CEOs is not losing some money or losing their jobs; it’s the prospect of being perp-walked in front of TV cameras in handcuffs, or the prospect of possibly losing your liberty in front of a jury of your peers. That is a terrifying thing. To me, the great missed opportunity of the financial crisis was that prosecutors didn’t do that a single time with a CEO or a top executive of any major financial institution. They might have lost those cases, but at least it would have struck some fear in the hearts of people.”
  • “Again, I’ve developed a lot of sympathy for them [Hayes and his family] and their situation there. I do want to make clear that he is not an innocent victim here. He is someone who was participating, and he was not acting properly. He was acting illegally, and I think deserves to be punished. I just find it galling that he is alone in being punished.”
  • “My concern is that as memories of these massive penalties [fines] fade and memories of the crisis fade, the pressure is going to return for banks to amp up their profits. As that becomes the priority among shareholders, it’s going to become the priority among senior executives. At that point, the cultural stuff goes out the window, and the No. 1 priority once again becomes just making as much money as quickly as you can.”

The book, The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History is available on Amazon here.

Thanks to my friend Toni Hill who forwarded the Wharton@Knowledge interview to me.  Toni and I worked together in the Philadelphia Field Office of the Antitrust Division on several high profile (and many low-profile but fascinating) cartel cases.

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[1]   The Wharton@Knowledge interview recap had this introduction:

David Enrich followed the story while he was working for The Wall Street Journal and got close to the central figure in the scandal — star derivatives trader Tom Hayes. In the book, The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History, Enrich, now with The New York Times, shares the tale of this brazen scam on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Sirius XM channel 111.

Three Real Estate Investors Indicted for Bid Rigging in Florida Online Foreclosure Auctions

Friday, November 3, 2017

A federal grand jury in West Palm Beach returned an indictment yesterday against three high-volume Florida real estate investors for conspiring to rig bids submitted through the online property foreclosure auction process, the Department of Justice announced.

The indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges Avi Stern, Christopher Graeve, and Stuart Hankin with conspiring to rig bids during online auctions in Palm Beach County, Florida in order to obtain foreclosed properties at suppressed prices.  The indictment alleges that the conduct took place from at least January 2012 until June 2015.

These are the first indictments related to bid rigging in foreclosure auctions filed in Florida by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  The Antitrust Division previously has prosecuted similar bid rigging conduct in Alabama, California, Georgia and North Carolina, resulting in more than 100 guilty pleas and convictions in those states.

“These charges demonstrate that the Antitrust Division will uncover and prosecute collusion by real estate investors, regardless of whether their conduct is carried out in person, or in texts, online chats or through other electronic means,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The Division will continue to work closely with our law enforcement colleagues to prosecute those responsible for taking money that would otherwise have gone to mortgage holders, Palm Beach County, and in some cases, to the owners of foreclosed homes.”

“Real estate investors who think they can swindle the system to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains beware,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan of the FBI Miami’s Field Office. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will vigorously investigate such schemes.”

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

These charges have been filed as a result of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section and the FBI’s Miami Division – West Palm Beach Resident Agency.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Washington Criminal I Section of the Antitrust Division at 202-307-6694 or www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.

Roofing Company Owner and Former Facilities Manager at Sierra Army Depot Indicted for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States

Friday, October 20, 2017

Government Seeks Forfeiture of Proceeds Resulting From Conspiracy

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of California returned an indictment yesterday against two individuals for allegedly conspiring to defraud the United States, the Department of Justice announced.

The indictment alleges that Kenneth Keyes, a former facility manager at Sierra Army Depot (SIAD), and Leroy Weber, the owner of a roofing company, participated in a conspiracy to defraud the United States from as early as February 2012, and continuing through at least July 23, 2013, by obstructing the lawful functions of the United States Army through deceitful or dishonest means.

“Yesterday’s indictment demonstrates the Antitrust Division’s commitment to pursuing individuals who seek to enrich themselves by misusing federal programs at the expense of taxpayers,” said Assistant Attorney Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

SIAD is a United States Army facility located in Northern California.  In 2012, SIAD earmarked $40 million for construction and renovation projects at its site using contractors who qualified under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Development Program.  The program provides assistance and benefits to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The indictment alleges that Keyes, Weber, and other unidentified co-conspirators:

  • Recruited eligible 8(a) contractors to work as primary contractors at SIAD;
  • Represented to those contractors that Weber controlled the work and allocation of SIAD contract awards;
  • Caused prime contracts to be assigned to selected 8(a) contractors;
  • Used proprietary government pricing information to inflate contract prices for the SIAD contracts;
  • Required selected 8(a) contractors to award work to companies owned or controlled by Weber; and
  • Required a contractor to pay Weber in exchange for being awarded certain subcontracts by 8(a) contractors.

The indictment also alleges that Weber caused a company under his control to issue weekly paychecks to a relative of Keyes, and himself caused $10,000 to be paid directly to Keyes.

The purpose of this conspiracy was to enable Keyes and Weber to unjustly enrich themselves and their family members by diverting government funds intended to rebuild and repair the SIAD Army facility to themselves and their companies.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Weber and Keyes each face a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The charges are the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation handled by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office with assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General.  Anyone with information concerning the conspiracy should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300.

Leading Electrolytic Capacitor Manufacturer Indicted for Price Fixing

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Nippon Chemi-Con Is Eighth Company Charged in Long-Running Conspiracy

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against an electrolytic capacitor manufacturer for participating in a conspiracy to fix prices for electrolytic capacitors sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

The indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, charges that Nippon Chemi-Con Corporation, based in Japan, conspired to suppress and eliminate competition for electrolytic capacitors from as early as September 1997 until January 2014.  Three current Nippon Chemi-Con executives, and one former Nippon Chemi-Con executive, were previously indicted for their participation in the conspiracy: Takuro Isawa, Takeshi Matsuzaka, Yasutoshi Ohno, and Kaname Takahashi.

“Today’s indictment affirms the Antitrust Division’s commitment to holding companies accountable for conspiring to cheat American consumers,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The Division will prosecute companies—no matter where they are located—that violate U.S. antitrust laws.”

According to the one-count felony charge, Nippon Chemi-Con carried out the conspiracy by agreeing with co-conspirators to fix prices of electrolytic capacitors during meetings and other communications.  Capacitors were then sold in accordance with these agreements.  As part of the conspiracy, Nippon Chemi-Con and its co-conspirators took steps to conceal the conspiracy, including the use of code names and providing misleading justifications for prices and bids submitted to customers in order to cover up their collusive conduct.

As a result of the government’s ongoing investigation, eight companies and ten individuals have been charged with participating in a conspiracy to fix prices of electrolytic capacitors.  Electrolytic capacitors store and regulate electrical current in a variety of electronic products, including computers, televisions, car engines and airbag systems, home appliances, and office equipment.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Today’s charge results from ongoing federal antitrust investigations being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the capacitor industry.  Anyone with information related to the focus of this investigation should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258, visit https://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations, or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.

Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging in Northern California Public Foreclosure Auctions

Friday, October 6, 2017

Investigations Have Yielded 63 Plea Agreements to Date

A real estate investor pleaded guilty for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Jim Appenrodt pleaded guilty to two counts of bid rigging in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Appenrodt was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on October 22, 2014.

According to court documents, Appenrodt participated in a conspiracy to rig bids by agreeing to refrain from bidding against other coconspirators at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco County and San Mateo County from as early as August 2008 until January 2011.

“The Antitrust Division has prosecuted scores of real estate investors who, for their own benefit and profit, conspired to corrupt the bidding process at foreclosure auctions,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the Division’s continued commitment to bringing to justice the individuals who committed these crimes.”

Today’s guilty plea is the result of the Department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda counties, California. To date, 63 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty.

These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to real-estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300 or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.