Federal trials are rarely swift, but a Palm Beach antitrust comes with a new wrinkle. Last month, federal authorities charged three real estate investors with bid rigging of foreclosed properties there.
That’s not new. Around the country, federal prosecutors have charged hundreds of people with illegally manipulating foreclosure auction results. The twist in the Palm Beach case is the volume of evidence federal prosecutors produced against the defendant. Prosecutors recently turned over an eye-popping 1.8 million electronic documents they plan to use as evidence against the trio. In all, feds turned over 3.35 million pages of written evidence to the defendants’ attorneys.
Unsurprisingly, the defendants’ lawyers say they won’t be ready to move ahead with their defense anytime soon. Prosecutors say the defendants conspired for more than three years to suppress or eliminate competition for local foreclosed real estate. The defendants also arranged a market allocation scheme to divide up the foreclosed properties among themselves.
According to the federal indictment, the conspirators agreed not to bid against each other. They also agreed to avoid bidding in certain neighborhoods to avoid competing against each other for properties. Each investor faces a single count of conspiracy to restrain trade. If convicted, they could spend 10 years in prison and a $1M fine. Attorneys on both sides currently say that they are unlikely to resolve the case via a plea deal.
Federal antitrust attorney
This case illustrates the complexity of federal antitrust cases. When you’re facing charges of bid rigging, price fixing or market allocation, hire an experienced antitrust attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has nearly 35 years of experience in federal criminal defense cases.
Federal prosecutors are well funded and well resourced. They also have a high conviction rate. That doesn’t mean you have no options, though. Hiring an aggressive criminal defense attorney is your best first step.
Photo Credit: Christian Schnettelker, via Flickr.com