Biloxi businessman Ivan Spinner is the sixth person to plead guilty in a bid-rigging scheme that involved real estate auctions at county courthouses in South Mississippi.
The owner of Gulf Coast Exotic Auto and Spinner Real Estate pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to one federal charge of price fixing.
From April 2010 to August 2015, Spinner admitted that he and co-conspirators fixed prices on foreclosed real estate being auctioned at county courthouses.
They agreed in secret who would bid on specific properties. The conspirators who agreed not to bid on those properties received payoffs, according to the formal charge filed against Spinner and others.
While Spinner owns Exotic Auto, Chris Gipson answered the phone there Monday afternoon and said he runs the business.
According to his profile on LinkedIn, Spinner's real estate company manages more than 50 properties and "regularly buys and sells real estate in both the residential and commercial markets." Spinner also owns TSG Agency, his profile says, a Biloxi-based business that sells insurance products.
He is active in the community through Our Lady of Fatima Church and the Gulf Coast Carnival Association. Spinner was in GCCA's Royal Court in 2016.
Others who have pleaded guilty so far in South Mississippi are retired Allstate agent Terry Tolar of Gulfport, Kevin C. Moore of Biloxi, Chad Nichols, a former bank loan officer from Gulfport, and brothers Shannon and Jason Boykin of Jackson County.
Sentencing has been delayed for the five businessmen who have previously entered pleas. The Boykins are now scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 14, while Nichols, Tolar and Moore are set for sentencing Oct. 16.
Spinner's sentencing date is Oct. 17. U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. is presiding over the cases at the federal courthouse in Gulfport.
The U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust Division has been cracking down on bid-rigging at public auctions, using the Sherman Act, an antitrust law, to go after conspirators in multiple states.
The maximum penalty for a violation of the Sherman Act is 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors contend the conspiracy lowered the prices of homes sold at auction. Proceeds from such sales pay off property mortgages and other debts, with any excess funds going to homeowners, a Justice Department news release says.