Two Georgia real estate investors pleaded guilty today for their roles in bid-rigging and fraud conspiracies committed at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Georgia, the Department of Justice announced.
Ellis Galyon and Christopher Anderson each admitted that they agreed with other real estate investors to rig auctions of foreclosed homes in the Atlanta metro area. According to court documents filed today in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, the 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. The winning bidders then paid off the other conspirators who had refrained from bidding against them. As a result of Galyon and Anderson’s actions, conspirators profited from money that otherwise would have gone to mortgage holders and other secured debt holders and, in some cases, to the people who owned the foreclosed homes.
Galyon admitted to participating in the conspiracy in Fulton County between June 2007 and at least July 2011. Anderson admitted to participating in the conspiracy in Fulton County between December 2007 and October 2011 and in DeKalb County between September 2009 and November 2011.
Including Galyon and Anderson, twenty-two defendants have been charged in connection with the department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraudulent schemes involving real estate foreclosure auctions in the Atlanta area. Twenty of those have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty.
These charges have been filed as 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, in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The president established the task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.