Bid Rigging at Foreclosure Auctions in Alabama

Last month, the Department of Justice announced the prosecution and guilty pleas of two Alabama real estate investors and their company regarding bid rigging at foreclosure auctions.  The official press release is available here.  The DOJ explains:

[T]he Brannons and their company conspired with others not to bid against one another at public real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama. After a designated bidder bought a property at a public auction, which typically takes place at the county courthouse, the conspirators would generally hold a secret, second auction, at which each participant would bid the amount above the public auction price he or she was willing to pay. The highest bidder at the secret, second auction won the property.

The Brannons and their company were also charged with conspiring to use the U.S. mail to carry out a fraudulent scheme to acquire title to rigged foreclosure properties sold at public auctions at artificially suppressed prices, to make and receive payoffs to co-conspirators, and to cause financial institutions, homeowners and others with a legal interest in rigged foreclosure properties to receive less than the competitive price for the properties.

The initial timeline of the charges were from 2004 to 2007.

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