Criminal Justice News

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Acting Attorney General Whitaker Statement on the FBI's 2017 Hate Crimes Statistics

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker released the following statement on the FBI’s announcement of the 2017 Hate Crimes Statistics:

"This report is a call to action—and we will heed that call. The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes. They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans. I am particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes—which were already the most common religious hate crimes in the United States—that is well documented in this report. The American people can be assured that this Department has already taken significant and aggressive actions against these crimes and that we will vigorously and effectively defend their rights."

Last month, the Justice Department launched a new comprehensive hate crimes website designed to provide a centralized portal for the Department’s hate crimes resources for law enforcement, media, researchers, victims, advocacy groups, and other related organizations and individuals.  More information on the website and an update on Justice Department hate crimes prosecutions can be found here.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Third Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging in Florida Online Foreclosure Auctions

Real estate investor Avi Stern pleaded guilty today in West Palm Beach, in connection with an ongoing investigation into bid rigging at online public foreclosure auctions in Florida, the Department of Justice announced.  Stern is the third real estate investor to plead guilty in this investigation.

Felony charges of bid rigging were filed against Stern on November 2, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.  According to court documents, from around January 2012 through around June 2015, Stern conspired with others to rig bids during online foreclosure auctions in Palm Beach County, Florida.

“Bid rigging at foreclosure auctions has produced enormous harm to many vulnerable communities around the country and directly affronts the values of a market economy,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The Division will continue to prosecute similar antitrust violations, and will hold individuals who engage in such types of conduct accountable.”

“Real estate investors who think they can swindle the system to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains beware,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami.  “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will vigorously investigate such schemes.”

The Department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress and restrain competition in order to obtain selected real estate offered at online foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices.  When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with any remaining proceeds available to the homeowner.  According to court documents, the conspiracy artificially lowered the price paid at auction for such homes.  In the past several years, the Division and its law enforcement partners have secured convictions of more than 100 individuals for rigging public mortgage foreclosure auctions in six different states, including Florida.

Friday, November 09, 2018

TF and Firearms Industry Offer $5,000 Reward in Reno Firearms Theft

RENO, Nev.– The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for the firearms industry -- has announced a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft of firearms from the Hi-Cap Pawn World Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL).

ATF is offering a reward up to $2,500, which will be matched by the NSSF for a total reward of up to $5,000.

This reward is part of a larger national cooperative initiative between the NSSF and ATF in which the NSSF matches ATF rewards in cases involving the theft of firearms from federally licensed firearms retailers.  ATF works closely with members of the firearms industry to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms.

On August 13, 2018, four suspects burglarized Hi-Cap Pawn World located at 12295 S. Virginia St., Reno, Nevada.  The suspects used a sledgehammer to break into the building via an adjoining business.  The suspects stole 46 pistols and a shotgun before fleeing the scene.

ATF and the Reno Police Department are investigating the burglary.

Anyone with any information about this crime should contact ATF at 1-(800)-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867) or visit (link is external) or through the mobile “reportit” app, available both on Google Play and the Apple App Store.  All calls will remain confidential.