Contra Costa Real Estate Investors Agree to Plead Guilty to Auction Rigging, Fraud

January 5, 2014 11:27 am · 22 comments

Three Contra Costa County real estate investors have agreed to plead guilty to charges that they took part in schemes to rig bids and commit mail fraud at foreclosure auctions for Bay Area homes, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced.

Federal felony fraud charges were filed Thursday against Rudolph Silva of Concord, Leslie Gee of Danville and Pleasant Hill real estate investor Thomas Bishop in connection with the alleged conspiracies. Gee faced additional charges for his allege involvement in similar crimes in Alameda County in 2009, justice department officials said.

Each defendant could face up to 30 years in prison and $2 million in fines, according to the department.

The three real estate investors are among 43 people who have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty to charges stemming from the justice department and FBI investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.

“The FBI and our partners have an obligation to investigate and pursue those who disrupt a free and fair marketplace,” FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson of the San Francisco Field office said. “We will continue to educate the public on the criminality of bid rigging at real estate foreclosure auctions.”

According to court documents, between 2008 and 2011, all three participated in schemes to rig the bidding at real estate foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County by agreeing not to bid against one another to obtain certain properties and instead to choose a winning bidder among a group of co-conspirators.

The three defendants are also accused of using the mail to fraudulently acquire the titles to Contra Costa properties up for sale at public auctions and to then make and receive payoffs and siphon money from the sale to co-conspirators that would have gone to mortgage lenders.

In some cases, the conspirators also diverted money that would have gone to defaulting homeowners, justice department officials said.

Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions is asked to call the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office at (415) 436-6660 or the FBI tip line at (415) 553-7400.

© 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Danielle January 5, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Fraud makes my blood boil, especially when it’s committed by wealthy people.

Whether or not these people are wealthy, throw the book at them!

Pro Fi January 5, 2014 at 12:21 PM

AWESOME!!!!!! GO GET ‘EM!!!!

Poor January 5, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Rich people problems. Its not like the poor are able to afford a house. They might be doing a favor since they are buying foreclosure houses. Us poor people will riot once it start affecting apartments, till then only the rich care or is affected. Welcome to America!

the other jj January 5, 2014 at 1:02 PM

the cant beat them, join them theory does not always work

@poor January 5, 2014 at 1:12 PM

The poor and working class have waited,
look where it’s gotten them, us. You can’t
beat the Rich until we realize that we all

Miguel January 5, 2014 at 1:14 PM

These guys think that they’ll get away with it.

Society is too easy on white collar crimes. Stiff sentencing might help.

judaspriest January 5, 2014 at 1:21 PM

seems to me like an awful lot of resources for some white collar crimes, why are we not looking at obama for the crimes against the working class

@ Poor January 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM
Screwed over January 5, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I wanna know why Tom Legault isn’t is prison and still gets to sell homes after being convicted for bid rigging and his other charges???

Jerk January 5, 2014 at 2:57 PM

FRAUD?!?! Try looking at how much the Banks are sucking out of you with a 30 year mortgage = OPEN FRAUD & and USURY for all of the religious folks.

mika January 5, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Hopefully Federal charges will be harsher than State. And why can’t they be deported if they are here illegally?

oldman January 5, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Aptly named

Elwood January 5, 2014 at 5:12 PM

This would seem to be the thread most favored by the ignorant..

Cartman January 5, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Boil them.

real question January 5, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Is there any way to find out the names of the other 40 that plead guilty to fraud? Seems to me that this would be a very interesting list of people to know about, I bet some are known members of our community and while pleading guilty is nice of them, it was clearly done to hide themselves from us.

Mayor, do you know where one could find these names of fraudsters among us? Bid rigging screwed everybody.

Dang January 6, 2014 at 9:05 AM

yeah! what #16 said! Ill get the torches.

VikingPrincess January 6, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Correct me if wrong, but these types of foreclosure lists were not available to the public 30 years or so ago, correct?
Has an increase in fraud and other crimes related occurred increased since made public?

ANNONeeemoose January 6, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Screwed OVer #10. Can you provide the info that he was convicted? I’m not doubting you, I just haven’t seen it yet. Also the Bureau of Real Estate is probably like any state entity. Justice grinds slowly. My guess is there is due process involved in yanking someone’s license… The guy being charged with murder was immediately revoked, but my guess is the BRE needs the convictions etc, and probably offers the licensee hearings to keep perhaps a restricted type license. There are others that have been convicted of other “white collar” crimes and their BRE license record has a link to the court documents and if they are restricted or conditional, it will link to what they can/cannot due. I’d image we’ll see that with TG at some point soon.

ANNONeeemoose January 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Ok, Screwed Over , I actually looked at his license, and it appears they didn’t let him renew it like normal, so something must be in the system as they go through their due process… It says the expiration of his license has been extended pursuant to this code:

I assume this means they didn’t let him outright renew, and instead are awaiting disposition of some of the court cases, or his hearings as they go through their process to potentially revoke his license.

Scammed January 7, 2014 at 3:49 PM

There are are worse crimes than bid rigging where real people got hurt not banks, Why isn’t the FBI going after people like Benny Chetcuti who has ripped off iindivduals of their life savings to the tune of 26 million dollars. Claycord you should do an article on this scam artist. Just google his name and you’ll find him and the lawsuits against him.

aroundtheblock January 8, 2014 at 10:49 AM

To Viking Princess – The foreclosure lists have always been available to the public. In addition to the lists that private companies market all Notices of Foreclosure must be published in the newspapers. The foreclosure auctions have always been a little noticed arena where the sale of people’s homes occur not because of the absence of foreclosure lists but because of the risk involved in the purchase of these homes. These properties are sold on an “as is” basis with no title insurance.

VikingPrincess January 8, 2014 at 12:18 PM

@around the block
I knew one of the many smart people on would know.
Thanks for clearing up. Maybe I was thinking about govt property.. who knows. Thanks again

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