People conspiring to rig bids at foreclosure auctions used a Modesto businessman's money without him knowing about the fraud, he claimed this week in a court brief.
Andrew Katakis, president of California Equity Management, stridently maintains his innocence while asking for help from the government to prove he was duped by those running the scheme. He wants their phone records.
"Mr. Katakis flatly denies being a part of any conspiracy and seeks to explain how this illegal activity could have occurred under his nose," reads the document, filed Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento.
Ten people have pleaded guilty to bid rigging at public auctions in San Joaquin County. Katakis is among four others three investors and one auctioneer facing trial in November.
Conspirators obtained dozens of foreclosed homes on the cheap, resold them at higher prices and split profits that should have gone to initial lenders, federal antitrust authorities say.
Katakis acknowledges doing business with the others but wasn't in on the game, the legal paper says. He needs their phone records to establish patterns "to defend himself by showing how the conspirators used their business relationships to conceal the mechanisms of the conspiracy from him," the document reads.
"The jury is likely to wonder how such a conspiracy could have been perpetuated with Mr. Katakis' money but without his knowledge," the brief continues.
His San Diego attorney could not be reached for comment.
The government has shared some phone records, but they don't cover the entire time of the alleged conspiracy September 2008 through October 2009 and Katakis can't get more without a subpoena, the document says.
He also wants video surveillance footage captured when he was briefly in the custody of U.S. marshals. "The demeanor of Mr. Katakis' co-defendants and the questions they asked him during their period of confinement together will prove exculpatory during trial," the paper says.
The marshals' office said it no longer has video from Dec. 13, 2011; modern technology can recover such footage and Katakis is willing to pay to have it done, the document says.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.