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PB POST | Lenders compound court errors

PB POST | Lenders compound court errors


While some called the problem a technicality, others called it perjury and a fraud.

By Christine Stapleton and Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 8:23 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
Posted: 8:18 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011

Scores of Palm Beach County homes were foreclosed on with faulty paperwork that banks are now trying to sidestep with a legal maneuver experts say doesn’t even exist.

A Palm Beach Post review of court documents filed after last fall’s robo-signing scandal found 116 Palm Beach County cases in which attorneys for banks have asked a judge to ratify a final foreclosure judgment even though flawed documents “may” have been used to foreclose on the property.

Nearly half of the homes – 48 percent – have been sold at foreclosure auction. Tampa-based Florida Default Law Group, being investigated by the state attorney general, filed all of those foreclosures. All but three of the homes auctioned were seized based on documents signed by Jeffrey Stephan, a renowned robo-signer.

They were spotted because lawyers filed “motions to ratify” the final foreclosure judgment – an unheard-of request apparently aimed at getting judges to uphold the original case, the amounts owed to the bank, and attorney fees.

A judge’s blessing on the back end could discourage challenges to ownership and title down the road.

© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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Judge wants answers to foreclosure document fees

Judge wants answers to foreclosure document fees


Published: November 18, 2010 Updated: 07:41 am

DADE CITY – Pasco County Circuit Judge Susan Gardner decided to take a closer look at her foreclosure cases after law firms were accused recently of overbilling and forging documents.

She doesn’t like what she’s finding – a mountain of fees to serve notice of foreclosure lawsuits to homeowners and to people who don’t exist.

“Routinely, routinely, I’m seeing charges of $1,600, $1,800, $1,000, $800, any of those are ridiculous, and there had better be a good reason for it,” Gardner said, noting that these fees should typically be $45 to a couple hundred bucks.

The judge chose 12 random files and said she found 11 of them had what she says appear to be inflated charges to serve homeowners with lawsuits. Some of the lawyers who submitted affidavits to the court saying the fees are “reasonable” often sign their names and bar numbers in an illegible scribble, court records show.

“I used to think this was just sloppy work, but I truly have begun to wonder if it’s not concealment,” Gardner said.

The files in question involve two of the law firms that are currently under investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office for submitting fabricated or misleading documents in foreclosure cases.

Gardner plastered files with adhesive notes detailing her concerns and drew unhappy faces on beside fees. She issued orders this week requiring five lawyers from the firms to appear in court early next month and explain the fees and signatures. If they fail to show up, they could be arrested.

“I don’t want to throw anybody in jail, but I’m getting really angry, and I’m not going to tolerate it anymore,” Gardner said. “I want some answers. This stuff isn’t getting through on my watch.”

© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



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