One of the property dealers used by Sean Hannity’s shell company in purchasing real estate was involved with a criminal conspiracy to obtain foreclosed homes in a fraudulent manner, according to a new report from the Guardian.
In 2012, a shell company linked to the Fox News host bought 11 homes in Georgia that had been purchased by the dealer, Jeff Brock, following foreclosures. Brock transferred the properties to corporate vehicles that sold them on to the Hannity-linked company at a profit.
Brock pleaded guilty in 2016 to federal charges of bank fraud and conspiracy for his role in an operation to rig foreclosure auctions between 2007 and 2012. He was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay more than $166,000 in fines and restitution.
According to U.S. prosecutors, Brock and two others were rigging foreclosed property auctions by agreeing not to compete on sales in order that one of them could win with “artificially low bids”; the winner would then compensate the others.
“These defendants conspired to corrupt foreclosure auctions that should have benefited lenders and homeowners,” the deputy assistant attorney general, Renata Hesse, who is head of the justice department’s antitrust division, said in a statement at the time.
The Guardian notes there is no evidence that Hannity knew of the arrangement Brock was involved in and that the Fox News host claims he was not directly involved with the company’s property purchases.
Some of the houses sold on to the Hannity-linked firm in 2012 had been acquired by Brock from banks later named by prosecutors among his victims. But the justice department declined to identify specific properties sold in the rigged auctions. Hannity has not been accused of any wrongdoing and there is no evidence he was aware that Brock was involved in fraud.
Christopher Reeves, an attorney for Hannity, said the Fox News host was not involved in choosing the houses bought via Brock and “has no knowledge whether these properties were involved in the fraud”.