SAN FRANCISCO -- A Concord man has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy to rig bidding at public real estate auctions in the Bay Area, authorities said.
Norman Montalvo, a real estate investor, was charged with four felonies Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, according to an FBI news release. Montalvo is the 26th person who has admitted to a role in the conspiracy to rig bidding and fraud at the foreclosure auctions.
Montalvo was also charged with using the mail to fraudulently acquire title to properties sold at auctions, to send and receive payoffs, and to send money to co-conspirators. Montalvo's role in the scheme began as early as June 2008 and lasted until about September 2010, according the FBI.
By conspiring to purchase properties at non-competitive prices, Montalvo and others were preventing mortgage holders from getting fair prices for their properties, and in some, cases, keeping money out of the hands of defaulting homeowners, according to the FBI. Montalvo is charged with bid rigging and fraud at auctions in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, but the Department of Justice's antitrust investigation also covers auctions in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
Montalvo faces up to 30 years in prison. He could also be fined up to $1 million or more, depending on his profit and the victims' losses.