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From Antitrust Law Daily, November 20, 2014

Eleven more California real estate investors indicted in bid rigging, mail fraud investigation

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division's probe of public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California continues to generate charges against investors. Yesterday, a federal grand jury in San Francisco returned three multi-count indictments against 11 real estate investors for their role in bid rigging and fraud schemes at foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

The indictments, filed in the federal district court in Oakland, name Northern California real estate investors Michael Marr, Javier Sanchez, Gregory Casorso, Victor Marr, John Shiells, Miguel De Sanz, Alvin Florida Jr., Robert A. Rasheed, John L. Berry III, Refugio Diaz, and Stephan A. Florida. These individuals were charged with participating in conspiracies to rig bids and schemes to defraud mortgage holders and others. The indictments allege that the defendants agreed not to compete at public auctions in return for payoffs and diverted money to themselves and others. All of the defendants were charged with bid rigging and fraud involving foreclosure auctions in California's Alameda County. Marr, Sanchez, Shiells, and De Sanz also were charged with bid rigging and fraud in nearby Contra Costa County. Additionally, Shiells and De Sanz were charged with bid rigging and fraud in San Francisco County. The challenged conduct took place between June 2007 and January 2011.

Dozens of individuals have now been charged in the Justice Department's ongoing probe. Just last month, a federal grand jury in San Francisco returned an eight-count indictment against another five real estate investors for their alleged role in the bid rigging and fraud schemes. In addition, 47 individuals have already pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty to similar charges, according to the Justice Department.

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