Ten California real estate investors were sentenced Monday for their roles in a massive bid rigging fraud scheme at San Joaquin County public foreclosure auctions, according to the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ). Thirteen people have already pleaded guilty or were convicted in this investigation. 

Foreclosure bid rigging is a form of fraud in which real estate that is sold at public auctions is manipulated by various individuals who conspired to suppress and restrain competition and to conceal payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at non-competitive prices.

The defendants in this case paid and received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the secured mortgage loans and other holders of debt secured by the properties.

“These defendants rigged foreclosure auctions to profit at the expense of mortgage holders and homeowners,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Yesterday’s sentences send a strong message that conspiracies to eliminate competition in any area of our economy will not be tolerated.”

“My office will continue to fight real estate fraud in all its forms, including bringing to justice those who would subvert public foreclosure auctions for their own personal gain,” said Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California.

A total of thirteen individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in connection with this investigation.

According to the USDOJ, the following individuals were sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento:

Anthony B. Ghio of Stockton, California, was sentenced to serve five months in prison and ordered to pay a $1 million criminal fine and $214,544 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

John R. Vanzetti of Stockton, California, was sentenced to serve five months in prison and ordered to pay a $1 million criminal fine and $271,454 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Theodore B. Hutz of Stockton, California, was sentenced to serve five months in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 criminal fine and $76,670 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Richard Northcutt of Stockton, California, was sentenced to serve seven months in prison and ordered to pay a $1 million criminal fine and $614,982 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Kennen A. Swanger of Alta, California, was sentenced to serve five months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 criminal fine.

Wiley C. Chandler of Stockton, California, was sentenced to serve seven months in prison and ordered to pay a $500,000 criminal fine and $614,982 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Walter Daniel Olmstead of San Francisco, California, was sentenced to serve eight months in prison and ordered to pay a $29,687 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Gregory L. Jackson of Lodi, California, was sentenced to pay a $150,000 criminal fine and $20,900 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Robert Rose of Danville, California, was sentenced to pay a $100,000 criminal fine and $24,128 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Anthony B. Joachim of Stockton, California, was sentenced to pay a $175,000 criminal fine and $94,154 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

Two other real estate investors, Andrew B. Katakis and Donald M. Parker, were convicted at trial of bid rigging in March 2014.

If you have any information on bid rigging or fraud related to real estate foreclosure auctions, please contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office at 415-934-5300, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm, contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California at 916-554-2700 or contact the FBI’s Sacramento Division at 916-481-9110.

Moe Bedard
My name is Maurice "Moe" Bedard. I am the founder of America's #1 Mortgage Forum, LoanSafe.org. My online work has been featured in the New York Times, LA Times, Fox Business, and many other media publications.