A Georgia real estate investor has pleaded guilty for his role in schemes to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions, the Justice Department announced on June 5. His case is the eighth prosecution brought for rigging public foreclosure auctions in the state.
The DOJ filed felony charges against David Wedean on April 27, 2015, in federal court in Atlanta. Wedean allegedly schemed with others in two Georgia counties not to bid against each other but instead to designate a winning bidder who would obtain property at the public auctions. The purpose of the scheme was to suppress competition so that property could be procured at non-competitive prices.
Wedean allegedly participated in this scheme from 2007 until 2011 in Fulton County and roughly the same period in DeKalb County. He was charged with using the mail to advance the scheme in which the conspirators would fraudulently acquire title to various properties sold at public auctions. He allegedly made and received payoffs and diverted money that otherwise would have gone to mortgage holders and others by limiting the second private auctions only to other conspirators. The conspirator who made the highest bid in this private auction would gain the property.
“The FBI, in working with the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division, continues to address the unlawful bid rigging seen in Georgia’s real estate foreclosure auctions,” Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office said. “The guilty plea of Mr. Wedean, a Georgia based real estate investor, not only illustrates the problem, but also how the federal government will aggressively pursue those engaged in this criminal activity.”