Man in violation of privacy law

Breaking news and expert analysis on legal and compliance issues

[Back To Home][Back To Archives]

From Antitrust Law Daily, October 9, 2013

California real estate investors denied separate trials in U.S. bid rigging action

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

In a criminal action against three real estate investors and an auctioneer for participating in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions held in California’s San Joaquin County, a motion by two of the defendants to sever the trials has been denied. The federal district court in Sacramento also denied an alternative request from defendants Anthony B. Joachim and Donald M. Parker to sever an obstruction of justice count asserted against defendant Andrew B. Katakis only (U.S. v. Katakis, October 8, 2013, Shubb, W.).

The Justice Department originally charged four investors—Katakis, Parker, Joachim, and Wiley C. Chandler—along with auctioneer W. Theodore Longley in 2011 with bid rigging and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The government alleged that the conspiracies lasted from approximately September 2008 until October 2009. The indictment also charged the auctioneer with aiding and abetting the conspirators. In February 2012, Chandler pleaded guilty to the charges.

In May 2013, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment, adding the obstruction of justice charge against Katakis. According to the newly added charge, after Katakis received a letter notifying him that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed his bank account, he deleted and caused others to delete electronic records and documents related to the conspiracies. The superseding indictment alleged that Katakis also installed and caused others to install and use a software program that overwrote deleted electronic records and documents so that they could not be viewed or recovered.

After the new superseding indictment was handed down, Joachim moved to sever his case from co-defendant Katakis or, alternatively, to sever the obstruction count against Katakis from the joint trial. Parker later joined in the motion. These defendants argued that the evidence relating to the obstruction count would jeopardize their right to a fair trial on the bid rigging and mail fraud conspiracy counts.

Generally, defendants who are jointly charged are jointly tried, the court observed. The defendants did not present any persuasive argument to compel a departure from these general principles. The court noted that it could address the defendant’s concerns through proper limiting instructions to the jury. The jury would be able to compartmentalize the evidence as it related to the separate defendants with respect to the obstruction count, in the court’s view.

A trial is expected in early 2014.

This is Case No. 2:11-cr-00511-WBS.

Attorneys: Anna Tryon Pletcher and Tai Snow Milder for U.S. Department of Justice. Paul Joseph Pfingst (Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP) for Andrew B. Katakis.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust AntitrustDivisionNews CaliforniaNews

Antitrust Law Daily

Introducing Wolters Kluwer Antitrust Law Daily — a daily reporting service created by attorneys, for attorneys — providing same-day coverage of breaking news, court decisions, legislation, and regulatory activity.


A complete daily report of the news that affects your world

  • View full summaries of federal and state court decisions.
  • Access full text of legislative and regulatory developments.
  • Customize your daily email by topic and/or jurisdiction.
  • Search archives for stories of interest.

Not just news — the right news

  • Get expert analysis written by subject matter specialists—created by attorneys for attorneys.
  • Track law firms and organizations in the headlines with our new “Who’s in the News” feature.
  • Promote your firm with our new reprint policy.

24/7 access for a 24/7 world

  • Forward information with special copyright permissions, encouraging collaboration between counsel and colleagues.
  • Save time with mobile apps for your BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Android, or Kindle.
  • Access all links from any mobile device without being prompted for user name and password.