Georgia Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging and Bank Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions
A Georgia real estate investor pleaded guilty today for his role in a bid-rigging conspiracy and fraud scheme related to public real estate foreclosure auctions in Gwinnett County, Georgia, the Department of Justice announced.
Clifford Wayne Hill pleaded guilty to bid rigging and fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. On Feb. 3, 2016, a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Georgia returned an indictment against the defendant.
According to the indictment, from December 2007 to March 2012, Hill and his co-conspirators agreed not to compete for the purchase of selected foreclosed homes so that they could win the auctions for those homes with artificially low bids. Hill made and received payoffs for the agreement not to bid; taking money that otherwise would have gone to mortgage holders and in some cases, to the owners of foreclosed homes.
Including Hill, twenty-three defendants have been charged in connection with the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraudulent schemes involving real estate foreclosure auctions in the Atlanta area. Twenty-two real estate investors have pleaded guilty.
Today’s guilty plea is a result of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section, the FBI’s Atlanta Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Washington Criminal II Section of the Antitrust Division at 202-598-4000, call the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, or visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.