James R. Patterson Jr., a real estate investor, plead guilty for his role in bid-rigging and fraud conspiracies committed at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Georgia. Patterson admitted that he agreed with other real estate investors to rig auctions of foreclosed homes in Gwinnett County from May 2007 until at least November 2011. According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Patterson 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. The winning bidders then paid off the conspirators who had refrained from bidding against them. As a result, 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.
Twenty-two 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 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.