State News

State alleges bid-rigging at foreclosure auctions

Posted December 28, 2010 1:13 p.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2010 1:56 p.m. EST

— A Virginia businessman and his company must pay a penalty of more than $47,000 for rigging bids during North Carolina foreclosure auctions.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens has approved state prosecutors' request for a judgment against Bruce Olvin McBarnette of Sterling, Va., and the company Summit Connection LLC. McBarnette has already paid $4,900 of the judgment, officials said, noting the money will go to the sellers of the properties.

Attorney General Roy Cooper says McBarnette entered agreements to stop bidding on four properties in Durham in exchange for payment from other bidders.

"Trying to fix public auctions isn’t the fair, legal way to do business,” Cooper said in a statement. “Bid rigging squelches honest competition and keeps buyers and sellers from getting a truly fair price.”

McBarnette also attempted to get competing bidders to pay him in seven other property auctions, but the bidders turned him down, officials said. The auctions took place in Durham and Mecklenburg counties.

McBarnette did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.