Danville resident to plead guilty in public auction scheme

Feds: Three Contra Costa County real estate investors accept plea deals for bid rigging, mail fraud conspiracy

A Danville resident and two other Contra Costa County real estate investors have accepted plea deals for conspiring to commit mail fraud and rig bids at public foreclosure auctions, according to federal authorities.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the agreements Thursday – the same day felony charges were filed in federal court in Oakland against Leslie Gee of Danville, Thomas Bishop of Pleasant Hill and Rudolph Silva of Concord.

Court documents show the trio worked together – and sometimes with others – to illegally manipulate Contra Costa County public foreclosure auctions between January 2008 and January 2011 in order to turn around and hold closed, private auctions for the properties, authorities said. Gee was also charged with carrying out similar activities in Alameda County in 2009.

"(Thursday's) plea agreements are the latest step in the Antitrust Division's efforts to hold accountable investors for their fraudulent and collusive activities at real estate foreclosure auctions," said U.S. assistant attorney general Bill Baer. "The division will continue to prosecute individuals who participated in illegal conspiracies and harmed distressed homeowners and lenders."

According to authorities, Gee, Bishop and Silva circumvented the public auctions by agreeing not to bid against each other and designating a winner beforehand. The properties would ultimately be sold to the conspirator who bid the highest at a subsequent private auction – often held at or near the courthouse steps.

Prosecutors also said the three men conspired to use U.S. mail to carry out their scheme aimed at fraudulently obtaining properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs, and to divert funds to co-conspirators.

The primary purpose the scheme, according to authorities, was to inhibit competition and hide payoffs in order to acquire foreclosed real estate at non-competitive prices. Additionally, the culprits ended up taking home money that would have otherwise gone to lenders, other debt-holders and sometimes even the defaulting homeowners, prosecutors said.

The trio could receive up to 40 years in prison and multimillion-dollar fines, according to federal officials.

To date, 43 people – including Gee, Silva and Bishop – have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty as a result of ongoing federal antitrust investigations into fraudulent activities at Northern California public real estate foreclosure auctions, authorities added.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Jan 8, 2014 at 10:24 am

Okay, let's have the usual onslaught of posts about how all those "other people" from over the hill come here to commit crimes. With that dreaded "stack and pack" and Agenda 21 we'll have nogoodniks like these guys all over Danville in no time.

Hey - and guess what? The race of the perps wasn't mentioned, was it? We all know what that means, as we've been advised repeatedly by posts from locals right here on the Danville Express - it's obvious that the bad guys are minorities, and their races are being concealed due to "reverse racism" and "liberal PC" - right?

C'mon, guys: where's the outrage? These guys stole a lot of money, and victimized people who were losing their homes. Why aren't the sanctimonious Danville "we are superior" crowd up in arms?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Woody G.
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2014 at 1:23 pm

... As through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men
Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen

And as through your life you travel
Yes, as through your life you roam
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home

Web Link

 +   Like this comment
Posted by frankly
a resident of Danville
on Jan 9, 2014 at 6:26 am

The scam is too clever for drive by criminals.

So white collar crime is clearly abundant!!!

This is new???

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm

"Silva" "gee" mi-nor-I- tee

There ya go, "huh"!!!!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Emmy Grant
a resident of Diablo
on Jan 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm

You know, Karen, when most folks reach a certain age or stage of development -- say, their mid-teens -- they find their own accomplishments are a better source of personal pride than when their ancestors arrived here, from where, or whether they traveled by first class ticket.

Then again, maybe you DON'T know.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Jan 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

Karen, the surname "Silva" is Portuguese. Portugal is in Europe. (I know, I know, this stuff is hard. But take your time, look it up, sound out the big words.) I know lots of Silvas. None of them are "minorities", no matter how you spell it.

Ignorance and racism, ignorance and racism - "...go together like a horse and carriage..."

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