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Two Real Estate Investors Sentenced For Rigging Bids at Northern California Public Foreclosure Auctions

Two real estate investors were sentenced for their role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Gregory Casorso and Javier Sanchez were charged on Nov. 19, 2014, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California. Casorso and Sanchez were convicted after trial on June 2, 2017, of conspiring to rig bids at foreclosure auctions in Alameda County, California. Sanchez was also convicted of bid rigging in Contra Costa County, California. Yesterday, Casorso was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison. In addition to his term of imprisonment, Casorso was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $20,000. Sanchez was sentenced to serve 21 months in prison. Sanchez was also ordered to pay a criminal fine of $88,140.

“The Division remains committed to seeking appropriate sentences, including prison terms and criminal fines, for individuals—like the real estate investors sentenced yesterday—who have been convicted of antitrust crimes that thwart free market competition,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. “We offer our thanks to our law enforcement partners at the FBI for their valuable work on this investigation.”

The evidence at trial showed that Casorso and Sanchez conspired with others to rig bids for hundreds of properties sold at foreclosure auctions. The conspirators designated the winning bidders to obtain selected properties at the public auctions and negotiated payoffs among themselves in return for not competing with one another. They subsequently conducted private auctions among themselves at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held, awarding the properties to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in those private auctions.

When properties are sold at public auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with the remaining proceeds paid to the homeowner.

The sentence is a result of an ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in California’s San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300 or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.