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From Antitrust Law Daily, September 20, 2017

Two California real estate investors plead guilty to bid rigging

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

As a January 2018 trial date looms for five real estate investors who were indicted in 2014 for conspiring to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, two of the defendants have now pleaded guilty. Today, the Department of Justice announced that Joseph J. Giraudo pleaded guilty to two counts of bid rigging, and Kevin B. Cullinane pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging. Further, change of plea hearings have been scheduled for the three remaining defendants—Raymond A. Grinsell, James F. Appendrodt, and Abraham S. Farag (U.S. v. Giraudo, Criminal No. 3:14-cr-00534-WHO).

All five were charged with participating in schemes impacting foreclosure auctions in California's San Mateo County, and three of the five allegedly engaged in bid rigging and fraud related to San Francisco County auctions. Giraudo was among those individuals alleged to have participated in conspiracies in both San Mateo and San Francisco counties, and Cullinane participated in the conspiracy in San Mateo County. The alleged conspiracies took place between August 2008 and January 2011.

According to the Justice Department, a total of 62 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty as a result of the government’s probe of real estate foreclosure auctions in northern California. The defendants in this case were among the last remaining targets of the probe awaiting trial. With additional hearings scheduled in the case next month, a trial in this matter would likely be avoided, and the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation into real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California could fast be coming to a close.

Attorneys: Andrew Nicholson-Meade, U.S. Department of Justice, for the United States. Matthew J. Jacobs and Erica Connolly (Vinson & Elkins LLP) for Joseph J. Giraudo.

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