The notion that Andrew Katakis’ partners in crime may have swindled him doesn’t negate Katakis’ own guilt in a bid-rigging conspiracy, a judge ruled, rejecting the former Modesto real estate investor’s request for a new trial.
Katakis turned up new evidence after his 2014 conviction, including two conspirators admitting that they cheated Katakis in public auctions of foreclosed homes in San Joaquin County in 2008 and 2009. One might have made a “deal” to come forward after Katakis agreed to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him, U.S. District Judge William Shubb said in his ruling.
Evidence regarding Katakis’ attempts to delete emails after learning about the government investigation was highly probative in showing Katakis’ consciousness of guilt.
William Shubb, U.S. district judge
“(Katakis) has not shown that the new evidence ... would probably result in acquittal if he was allowed to present it in a new trial,” Shubb said. “Evidence that these individuals were conspiring against Katakis does not disprove the persuasive evidence” of Katakis’ guilt, the judge said.
Katakis, 53, owns Modesto-based California Equity Management Group and was managing partner of Lenders Financial Group LLC. He has been out of custody pending the new-trial request. He could face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced in Sacramento’s federal court on Sept. 18.
Authorities said a group of investors, enabled by a public auction crier, froze out honest buyers at foreclosure auctions and split proceeds, bringing $1.9 million to Katakis, tabbed as the mastermind. Jurors convicted him of rigging bids and obstructing an investigation, but the judge threw out the latter verdict.
The court is not convinced that (prosecutors) engaged in misconduct, much less that the outcome of trial would have been different absent any misconduct.
William Shubb, U.S. district judge
Appellate justices also sided with Katakis, saying he could not have destroyed emails after learning of the investigation, as prosecutors had charged – although evidence showed that Katakis tried, all of the judges said. Katakis since has argued that prosecutorial misconduct tainted evidence and poisoned jurors’ minds against him, and demanded a new trial.
Katakis was involved in this conspiracy from its inception and remained one of its leaders until the bitted end. ... Katakis laid down with dogs and got fleas; his flea bites are not proof that he never laid down in the first place.
Kelsey Linnett and Jennifer Hane, prosecuting attorneys, U.S. Department of Justice
In a recent court document, prosecutors insisted that “Katakis was involved in this conspiracy from its inception and remained one of its leaders until the bitter end. ... Katakis laid down with dogs and got fleas; his flea bites are not proof that he never laid down in the first place.”
In his ruling, Shubb said the “testimony of other witnesses was more than enough for the jury to infer Katakis’ knowing involvement” in the conspiracy. The judge pointed to many emails among conspirators; in one, for example, Katakis suggested that buying off the auction crier was “very, very important to our success.”
“There was ample evidence for the jury to infer that Katakis knowingly participated in the bid-rigging scheme,” Shubb said, and that Katakis still was making money “even while (others) were siphoning away funds from Katakis and his companies.”
Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390