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From Antitrust Law Daily, December 16, 2016

Four California real estate investors convicted in bid rigging suit

By Greg Hammond, J.D.

Real estate investors Alvin Florida Jr., Robert Alhashash Rasheed, John Lee Berry III, and Refugio Diaz were each convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiring to rig bids at foreclosure auctions held in Northern California between May 2008 and December 2010, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division has announced (U.S. v. Florida, Dkt. 4:14-cr-00582-PJH).

The indictment asserted that the investors agreed not to compete at public auctions in return for payoffs and diverted money to themselves and others that should have gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries. According to the Antitrust Division, evidence showed that the defendants conspired to rig bids to obtain properties sold at foreclosure auctions in Alameda county, negotiated payoffs for agreeing not to compete, held second, private auctions known as "rounds," and awarded the properties to conspirators who submitted the highest bids. This scheme defrauded mortgage holders and other beneficiaries, the Justice Department alleged.

Apart from these four convictions, more than 50 individuals have pleaded guilty to criminal charges as a result of the Antitrust Division’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging at public foreclosure auctions in Northern California. Indictments remain pending against several other real estate investors who allegedly participated in the conspiracy.

Most recently, in November 2016, real estate investors John Michael Galloway and Nicholas Diaz, who were also charged in 2014 for their roles in bid rigging and fraud at foreclosure auctions in Northern California, each pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging.

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