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Home foreclosure fraud investigation nets 36th guilty plea, federal officials say

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

A gate to a foreclosed home in Richmond, Calif., is locked in an April 2010 photo.

A real estate investor agreed Thursday to plead guilty to fraud, the latest of dozens of people to admit they were involved in rigging bids in home foreclosure auctions in the Bay Area, the Justice Department said. 

The department said in a statement that Daniel Rosenbledt of Hillsborough, Calif., agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud charges stemming from auctions in San Mateo and San Francisco counties from April 2008 to January 2011. He was accused in court documents of conspiring with others to refrain from bidding against each other in a case that involved payoffs among co-conspirators so that specific bidders got select properties, the department said.

Rosenbledt is the 36th person to plead guilty or agree to plead guilty in the investigation in the Bay Area, the statement said. The investigation in the Bay Area dates back to 2011 and has involved millions of dollars in foreclosed homes.

In some of cases, such as one in Alameda County (PDF file) and one from a similar investigation in the Stockton area, the conspirators would agree not to bid against each other so a property could be bought cheaply, then they would hold a second auction among themselves for the home, according to court documents. 

The scams occurred during the height of the nation's mortgage crisis; more than 1 million homes were foreclosed on in 2010 alone. California had one of the highest rates of foreclosure.

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