Walnut Creek real estate investor Wayne Lippman has reportedly agreed to plead guilty for his part in a far-reaching bid rigging conspiracy at public real estate foreclosure auctions, according to a release issued by the Department of Justice.
Felony charges were filed against Lippman Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Federal prosecutors allege that between August 2008 and January 2011, Lippman and others conspired not to bid against one another and instead to pre-designate a winning bidder in order to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Lippman made and received payoffs for the agreements not to bid, diverting money that would have otherwise gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries, according to prosecutors.
“This plea is the latest step in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing efforts to hold investors accountable for colluding at foreclosure auctions and denying lenders and homeowners the fair market value of their property,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute collusion at real estate foreclosure auctions and to restore confidence in the housing market.”
“The negative impact resulting from bid rigging and fraud at public foreclosure auctions is far-reaching,” said Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office. “The FBI remains committed to identifying such violations and we are grateful for the unwavering dedication to justice shared by all of our law enforcement partners.”
Monday’s charges are the latest filed by the department in its ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, California. To date, 55 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty to charges brought in connection with the scheme.