Northern California Real Estate Investor Sentenced for Rigging Bids at Public Foreclosure Auctions
A Northern California real estate investor was sentenced yesterday for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.
John Michael Galloway was charged on Dec. 3, 2014, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California. He pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging in Oakland, California, on Nov. 16, 2016. Yesterday, Galloway was sentenced to serve 12 months of imprisonment and ordered to pay a $74,899 criminal fine and $265,050 in restitution.
Between June 2008 and January 2011, Galloway conspired with others not to bid against one another, instead designating a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County. The members of the conspiracy then held second, private auctions 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. The primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and eliminate competition in order to obtain selected real estate offered at Contra Costa County public foreclosure auctions at noncompetitive prices. 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.
Yesterday's sentence is a result of the department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in California’s San Francisco, San Mateo 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.