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From Antitrust Law Daily, April 10, 2019

First guilty plea in online government surplus auction rigging probe

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

Owner of a Texas computer recycler/reseller admits to role in conspiracy to rig bids submitted to the GSA.

An ongoing investigation into a conspiracy to rig bids submitted to the Government Services Administration (GSA) has netted its first guilty plea. Marshall Holland, the owner of a Texas company that purchases computers to resell and recycle, pleaded guilty today to the one-count felony charge filed in the federal district court in Minneapolis. Holland has agreed to assist in the investigation, according to a Department of Justice announcement. To date, Holland is the only individual to be named by the government in its investigation (U.S. v. Holland, Case No. 0:19-cr-00065-MJD).

In March, the government charged Holland with fixing prices, rigging bids, and allocating markets for lots of surplus government property, in particular computers, that were offered for sale on the GSAAuctions website. GSAAuctions is an electronic system operated by the federal government’s GSA. GSAAuctions offers a variety of federal assets for sale by electronic bidding to the general public, including surplus property that is no longer needed by government agencies.

According to the charge, Holland and his co-conspirators suppressed and eliminated competition by agreeing on which co-conspirator would be designated to win a certain lot offered for sale by GSAAuctions and then submitting bids for that lot. Holland was charged with participating in the conspiracy from about February 2017 until as late as May 2018.

Terms of the plea agreement were not disclosed. A presentence investigation and report have been requested.

Attorneys: Carla M. Stern and Daniel W. Glad, U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division. John R. Marti and Alex P. Hontos (Dorsey & Whitney LLP) for Marshall Holland.

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