Why 7 Coast real estate investors haven’t been sentenced yet in illegal auction-rigging case

Seven Coast investors who admitted a conspiracy to rig bids at real-estate auctions in South Mississippi will not be sentenced until January because they are cooperating with an ongoing Justice Department investigation, court records show.

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. was previously scheduled to sentence the investors in November, but the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department asked for the delay until their “investigation and prosecutions are complete,” says a motion filed in each of the seven cases.

The seven investors who pleaded, the amounts they admit spending on property and kickbacks, and their sentencing times and dates are:

  • Real estate agent Kim Foster of Vancleave, $550,000, 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

  • Businessman Ivan Spinner of Biloxi, $831,070, 10 a.m. Jan. 17.

  • Real estate investor Shannon Boykin of Pascagoula and his brother, Jason Boykin of Biloxi, $1.55 million, 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

  • Retired Allstate agent and real estate investor Terry Tolar of Gulfport, $1.4 million, 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

  • Businessman Kevin C. Moore of Biloxi, $838,179, 10 a.m. Jan. 17.

  • Former banker and rental company owner Chad Nichols of Gulfport, $236,538, 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

The extent to which the investors cooperated will be considered when they are finally sentenced, prosecutors say. The penalty for conspiring to rig bids is up to 10 years in prison, but none of the investors are expected to serve maximum sentences.

Prosecutors left open the possibility that the sentences could be delayed again rather than proceeding in January.

Antitrust lawyers have outlined in the defendants’ previous court appearances how the scheme worked. Investors met secretly before public auctions, decided who would bid on properties, then paid off those who sat out the bids.

Prosecutors say the conspiracy suppressed the prices for which properties sold. Banks lost money, as did any property owners owed proceeds. The DOJ’s Antitrust Division has been cracking down on the practice nationwide.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @CAnitaLee1