Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ala. real estate investors guilty in bid rigging

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Two Alabama real estate investors have pleaded guilty to bid rigging and mail fraud in a scheme to artificially lower prices of auctioned homes.

U.S. Department of Justice officials say Robert M. Brannon, of Laurel, Miss., and his son Jason Brannon, of Mobile, Ala. conspired with others to avoid bidding against each other at public real estate auctions.

Authorities say after a bidder bought a property at auction, the conspirators held secret second auctions where participants placed higher bids to buy the property. Mail fraud charges stem from the Brannons using the postal service to acquire titles to properties that were fraudulently purchased.

The Brannons are two of eight people in the scheme who have pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile.