California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Two New Guilty Pleas Added to the Dozens of Guilty Pleas in Alameda County Auction Bidding

Another two Northern California real estate investors have thrown in the towel and agreed to plead guilty for their roles in numerous conspiracies to rig bids at public foreclosure auctions in Alameda County.

The guilty pleas came after felony charges of bid rigging and mail fraud were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland against Peter McDonough of Pleasanton and Michael Renquist of Livermore.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has taken an aggressive stance against this particular antitrust operation, which to date has resulted in 29 persons either pleading guilty or agreeing to do so.

Including today’s pleas, 29 individuals have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.

As with the prior 27 criminals, McDonough and Renquist were accused in court documents for conspiring with others not to bid against one another during the period of November 2008 and January 2011 in public real estate foreclosure auctions. Rather, the conspirators designated a winning bidder and then determined the final winner in a second private auction.

Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division said “The conspirators suppressed competition and lined their pockets through fraudulent and collusive conduct at the expense of lenders and distressed homeowners. The Antitrust Division and its law enforcement partners at the FBI will continue to hold accountable individuals who subvert the competitive process at foreclosure auctions around the country.”

Added David J. Johnson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Office, “The FBI and the Antitrust Division continue to bring to justice those individuals who engage in fraudulent anticompetitive practices at foreclosure actions. The foundation of our real estate market depends on fairness and transparency of all participants, and we are committed to working with our local and federal partners to ensure that conspirators are held accountable.”

According to the press release by the U.S. Department of Justice, a violation of the Sherman Antitrust 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 victims 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.”

In addition to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, these crimes were investigated by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FinCEN) established by President Obama.

© Copyright 2007-2018 Monique Bryher

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The information and notices contained on The California Real Estate Fraud Report are intended to summarize recent developments in real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, short sale fraud, REO fraud, appraisal fraud, loan modification scams, loan modification fraud and other real estate related crimes occurring in Los Angeles and California. The posts on this site are presented as general research and information and are expressly not intended, and should not be regarded, as legal advice. Much of the information on this site concerns allegations made in civil lawsuits and in criminal indictments. All persons are presumed innocent until convicted of a crime. Readers who have particular questions about real estate fraud, mortgage fraud and appraisal fraud matters or who believe they require legal counsel should seek the advice of an attorney.

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