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From Antitrust Law Daily, March 12, 2014

California real estate investors convicted of rigging bids; auctioneer acquitted

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

A jury in the federal district court in Sacramento has convicted two real estate investors of conspiring to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions held in California’s San Joaquin County, the Department of Justice announced yesterday. An auctioneer who was charged with participating in the conspiracy was acquitted by the same jury. The verdicts came after a four-week trial (U.S. v. Katakis, Criminal No. 2:11-CR-511 WBS).

In May 2013, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Andrew B. Katakis with obstruction of justice related to a federal investigation into conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions. The superseding indictment also included conspiracy to rig bids and conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges from 2011 against Katakis, as well as real estate investors Donald M. Parker, and Anthony B. Joachim, and auctioneer W. Theodore Longley. In December 2013, Joachim pleaded guilty to conspiring to rig bids and commit mail fraud. Katakis, Parker, and Longley went to trial.

Katakis, who was the owner of California Equity Management Group Inc. and managing partner of Lenders Financial Group LLC, and Parker, who owned and worked for several real estate investing companies, were convicted of conspiring to rig bids. Katakis was also found guilty of obstruction of justice for deleting electronic records related to the conspiracy in 2010. However, the jury could not reach a verdict on a count of mail fraud against either of these defendants. The government alleged that the conspiracy took place between September 2008 and October 2009.

Longley, an auctioneer who worked on behalf of various trustee companies to sell foreclosed houses at the auctions, was found not guilty on both counts of conspiracy to rig bids and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

In addition to the convictions against Katakis and Parker, 11 individuals have pleaded guilty in the federal district court for the Eastern District of California in connection with the investigation, according to the Justice Department.

Companies: California Equity Management Group Inc.; Lenders Financial Group LLC

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