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Yet Another Investor Admits Bid Rigging at Foreclosure Auctions

mortgagefraudblog.com | March 1, 2014

Charles Gonzales, Alamo, California, a Northern California real estate investor, has agreed to plead guilty to his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.

Felony charges were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland. Including Gonzales, a total of 44 individuals have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty as a result of an ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.

According to court documents, beginning as early as April 2009 until about October 2010, Gonzales conspired with others not to bid against one another and instead to designate a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda County, California. Gonzales was also charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud by fraudulently acquiring title to selected Alameda County properties sold at public auctions and making and receiving payoffs and diverting money to co-conspirators that would have gone to mortgage holders and others by holding second, private auctions open only to members of the conspiracy. The selected properties were then awarded to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in the second, private auctions. The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held.

The primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and restrain competition and to conceal payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at Alameda County public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices. When real estate properties are sold at the auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner. According to court documents, the conspirators paid and received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner.

A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for the Sherman Act charges may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victim if either amount is greater than $1 million. A count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The government can also seek to forfeit the proceeds earned from participating in the conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

The Department of Justice announced the guilty plea.

“The Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation has resulted in charges against 44 individuals for their roles in schemes that defraud distressed homeowners and lenders,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The division will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to vigorously protect competition at the local level.”

“The symbolism of holding illegitimate and fraudulent private auctions near a courthouse is deplorable,” said David J. Johnson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Office. “The justice system will continue to prevail in this ongoing investigation pursuing bid rigging and fraud at public foreclosure auctions.”

 

Back to March 2014 Archive

CFLA was founded by the Nation's Leading Foreclosure Defense Attorneys back in 2007 to serve the Foreclosure Defense Industry and fight pervasive Bank Fraud. Since opening our virtual doors, CFLA has rapidly expanded to become the premier online legal destination for small businesses and consumers. But as the company continues to grow, we're careful to hold true to our original vision. For us, putting the law within reach of millions of people is more than just a novel idea—it's the founding principle, just ask Andrew P. Lehman, J.D.. With convenient locations in Houston and Los Angeles, you can contact Our National Account Specialist and General Manager / Member Damion W. Emholtz at 888-758-2352 for a free Mortgage Fraud Analysis or to obtain samples of work product, including cutting edge Bloomberg Securitization Audits, Litigation Support, Quiet Title Packages, and for more information about our Nationally Accredited and U.S. Department of Education Approved "Mortgage Securitization Analyst Training Certification" Classes (3 days) 24 hours for approved CLE & MCLE Credit (Now Available Online).

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