A Missouri man pleaded guilty today to rigging online offers submitted to the General Services Administration (GSA).
According to court documents, Alan Gaines pleaded guilty to the one-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on January 30, 2020. According to the indictment, Gaines conspired with others to rigging bids at online public auctions of surplus government equipment. conducted by the GSA from approximately July 2012 through May 2018. Gaines is the third person charged and the third person to plead guilty in the investigation.
“For years, the defendant’s selfish scheme has robbed the government and robbed the American taxpayers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “I commend the team of GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) officers and Antitrust Division prosecutors and paralegals for their dedication to protecting online auctions from collusion.”
“Competition is a fundamental part of any fair auction,” said GSA Inspector General Carol F. Ochoa. “GSA OIG will continue to investigate allegations of collusive activity that compromises the integrity of GSA Auctions and harms the taxpayer.”
The GSA operates the GSA Auctions, which provides the general public with the ability to electronically bid on a wide variety of federal assets, including computer equipment no longer required by government agencies. GSA Auctions sells this equipment through its online auctions, and auction proceeds are distributed to government agencies or the general fund of the US Treasury.
According to the indictment, the main purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress and eliminate competition. The indictment further alleges that Gaines and his co-conspirators obtained the equipment by agreeing which co-conspirators would submit bids for particular lots offered for sale by GSA Auctions and which co-conspirator would be nominated to win. a particular batch.
Gaines pleaded guilty to a violation of the Sherman Act. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a criminal fine of $1 million for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of these amounts exceeds the maximum legal fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
The GSA’s Great Lakes Inspector General’s Office Regional Investigations Office in Chicago is investigating the matter.
The Chicago office of the antitrust division is pursuing the case.
Anyone with information regarding GSA bid-rigging or auction fraud should contact the Antitrust Division’s Chicago office at 312-984-7200, the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888- 647-3258 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or email the GSA Office of Inspector General at [email protected]