LAUREL — Two real estate investors have pleaded guilty to bid rigging and mail fraud in a scheme to artificially lower prices of auctioned homes in Alabama.
U.S. Department of Justice officials say Robert M. Brannon, of Laurel, 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, 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 involved in the scheme who have pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.