Northern California Man Sentenced to Prison for Rigging Bids at Public Foreclosure Auctions
After being convicted at trial, a Lafayette, California, man was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.
Thomas Joyce was charged on Dec. 3, 2014, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California. Joyce was convicted on Feb. 6, 2017, of conspiring to rig bids at real-estate foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County. In addition to his term of imprisonment, Joyce was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
Between June 2008 and January 2011, Joyce and other bidders at the auctions conspired not to bid against one another for selected properties, instead designating a winning bidder to win the property at the auction. The members of the conspiracy then held second, private auctions, known as “rounds,” to award the properties to members of the conspiracy and determine payoffs for other conspirators who had agreed not to bid against each other at the public auctions. The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held. When real estate properties are sold at public auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with the remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner.
The sentence is a result of the division’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in California’s San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office.
Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300 or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.