A Livermore and Pleasanton man are the two most recent real-estate investors that have pleaded guilty to conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions, according to the Department of Justice.
Peter McDonough of Pleasanton and Michael Renquist of Livermore conspired with others not to bid against one another, and instead designated a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda County. The two also committed mail fraud, using the mail to further manipulate the foreclosure process for their own gain.
Court documents say the two received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties, and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner.
Renquist was also charged with additional counts for his involvement in similar conduct in Contra Costa County.
“The conspirators suppressed competition and lined their pockets through fraudulent and collusive conduct at the expense of lenders and distressed homeowners,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division and its law enforcement partners at the FBI will continue to hold accountable individuals who subvert the competitive process at foreclosure auctions around the country.”
Now 29 people have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty as a result of the Justice Department’s ongoing antitrust investigation in Northern California.
“The FBI and the Antitrust Division continue to bring to justice those individuals who engage in fraudulent anti-competitive practices at foreclosure actions,” said David J. Johnson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Office. “The foundation of our real estate market depends on fairness and transparency of all participants, and we are committed to working with our local and federal partners to ensure that conspirators are held accountable.”