Judge Orders New Jersey Investor to Serve a Year in Prison for Bid Rigging at Tax Lien Auctions
Thirteen Individuals and Three Companies Have Been Convicted or Pleaded Guilty in the Investigation to Date
A former bidder for a Pennsylvania tax liens investment company was sentenced to serve a prison term of 12 months and one day and pay a $25,000 criminal fine for conspiring to rig bids at New Jersey tax lien auctions, the Department of Justice announced today.
James Jeffers Jr., of Mount Holly, New Jersey, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton of the District of New Jersey. Jeffers was convicted by a jury on Oct. 2, 2015 after a multi-week criminal trial. The jury found Jeffers guilty of violating Section One of the Sherman Act by conspiring to allocate and rig bids at municipal tax lien auctions that were held in the state of New Jersey from at least 1998 until at least February 2009. Jeffers’s conviction resulted from his conduct as a bidder for Crusader Servicing Corp., which pleaded guilty in September 2012 to participating in the same conspiracy. Jeffers also bid for Crusader’s successor company during the conspiratorial period.
Jeffers participated with others in the conspiracy not to bid against one another at municipal tax lien auctions. Since the conspiracy permitted the conspirators to purchase tax liens with limited competition, each conspirator was able to obtain liens which earned a higher interest rate. Property owners were therefore made to pay higher interest on their tax debts than they would have paid had their liens been purchased in open and honest competition, the department said.
Today’s charge is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office and the FBI’s Atlantic City, N.J., office. Including Jeffers, a total of thirteen individuals and three companies have been convicted or have pleaded guilty as part of the investigation. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to municipal tax lien auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s New York Office at 212-335-8000, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm or contact the Atlantic City Resident Agency of the FBI at 609-677-6400.