Two Northern California real estate investors pled guilty Tuesday to fraud and a bid-rigging conspiracy in the auction of foreclosed homes. Florence Fung of Sacramento and Michael Navone of San Rafael were accused of conspiring with others between February 2009 and January 2011 not to bid against one another in foreclosures, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Instead, the pair agreed to select the winning bidder to obtain specific property in real estate foreclosure auctions in San MateoCounty.
The pair were accused of receiving payoffs and diverting money to co-conspirators that should have gone to mortgage holding banks and others.
Navone was also accused of a similar conspiracy in San Francisco.
The prosecution was part of a federal antitrust investigation of alleged conspiracies intended to suppress or restrain competition and conceal payoffs in order to buy specific real estate at San Mateo and San Francisco county public foreclosure auctions.
The pair will be sentenced early in 2014.