Is Fla AG Bondi Owned by the Banks?

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EDITOR’S COMMENT: Some of you may remember that when Nixon tried to get Richardson to fire the special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation, it was called the Saturday Massacre, as he fired Richardson, then U.S. AG, and replaced him with someone who would fire the prosecutor. It led directly to Nixon’s registration after being faced with virtually certain impeachment. Bondi made the same move when she fired the two lead prosecutors in the fraudulent foreclosures of fraudulent mortgages, with the Banks supporting and owning the foreclosure mills that routinely forged, fabricated and misrepresented documents and facts to the court.
AG Bondi Has a Lot of Explaining to do. Is she setting up a fraudulent win for LPS? She made it seem like she was making a 180 degree turn when she applied for review by the Supreme Court of a 4th DCA opinion that the lawyers in the foreclosure mills could not be prosecuted for crimes (like forging documents) because the lawyers were not involved in commerce. This is crazy stuff, but truth is stranger than fiction.
Bondi’s latest move might be too little too late — or much worse. The 4th DCA opinion creates “law” in their jurisdiction, thus giving immunity to lawyers who knowingly defrauded the Courts, borrowers and investors to whom some sort of obligation (not necessarily recited in the loan documentation) is owed. In the meanwhile the lawyers continue their illegal practices with immunity from prosecution. The most that can be done to them is revocation of their license, while thousands lose their homes in fraudulent foreclosures of fraudulent mortgages based upon fraudulent promissory notes that do not reveal the securitization chain and funding.
After reading the work done by Naked Capitalism (below), it appears that Bondi is not just friendly toward the Banks, she’s owned by them. Thus the recent attempt to appeal the second decision exonerating lawyers from criminal prosecution might be a ploy. In the first decision from the 4th DCA which said the same thing, she deliberately chose not to appeal, making that decision stand as legal precedent for all litigants in the jurisdiction of the 4 th DCA. But she caught an enormous amount of flack for that decision and where she fired the lead investigators in the case against the Banks and their lawyers.
Thus I can’t help but wonder whether my celebratory remarks about the AG appeal from the second decision might be wrong. This might be a ploy to lose by default or by conceding things that are just plain wrong. The Banks might be playing the system here to force the Florida Supreme Ct to issue a negative ruling either declining review or affirming the 4th DCA on technical procedural grounds. let’s see if the Supremes are smarter than the Banks. They have the power to correct the situation.

SEE FULL ARTICLE ON NAKEDCAPITALISM.COM

Hatchet Job by Florida Inspector General to Justify Firing of Two Lawyers for Foreclosure Fraud Investigations

by Yves Smith

The usual stereotype of corruption on the US state level is that, depending on the day, Louisiana or Mississippi tops the list. But the cesspool created by the widening foreclosure crisis in Florida puts anything in kudzu-land to shame.

The object lesson is a statement issued by the Florida Office of the Inspector General concerning its decision not to investigate the firing (or more accurately, resignation under duress) of two lawyers in the attorneys general’s office, June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, who believe they were canned for political reasons, namely, for being too aggressive in investigating foreclosure abuses. Note that these firings came shortly after they received exemplary performance reviews.

Now narrowly, there may indeed be nothing to investigate relative to their firing, in that workers in the US have pretty close to zero rights and a boss can indeed fire someone simply for not sharing his sense of priories. But there is a more general question of public interest as to whether a firing in a public office was indeed politically motivated, particularly if the investigators were ruffling the feathers of parties that the AG did not want to annoy (and as the brief one page conclusion notes, Florida does have statutes against “misuse of a public position” but query how that is interpreted in practice).

As we will discuss further, this astonishingly shoddy document tries to bury the matter by publishing write-ups of long complaints by the parties immediately involved in the firing (Associate AG Richard Lawson, Assistant AGs Trish Conners and Carlos Muniz) and by one of the parties targeted, namely, a letter from Lender Processing Services. Regular readers of this blog will know LPS is engaged in questionable conduct and has been the subject of investigations by the US Trustee’s office, a branch of the Department of Justice. It is currently the target of a wide-ranging lawsuit by the Nevada State attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto, an investigation by the FDIC, has signed a consent decree with the OCC for questionable conduct, and is subject of private lawsuits, including one joined by the Chapter 13 trustees as a class, for impermissible legal fee sharing. (We’ve also described how LPS lied in SEC filings).

Effectively, this “review” is an effort at reputation/character assassination via the release of pretty much only one side of a “he said, she said” (Clarkson and Edwards were given a brief phone interview which was limited to two conversations Lawson had with them about their performance; they were given no opportunity to contest the allegations made in the subsequent interviews, which were not just with Lawson, Conners, and Muniz, but also five other members of the AG’s office).

To put it mildly, if you read the 85 page document and didn’t know the context (the extensive, widespread evidence of bad conduct and strained pleadings by the foreclosure mills and LPS, and the prior tip top reviews received by Clarkson and Edwards), you’d think they were fuckups of the first order and were lucky to have jobs. This is heresay presented as unvarished truth, and the unsupported (and as we will discuss later, often obviously untrue or at best misleading) charges extend to two Florida foreclosure fraud investigators, Lisa Epstein and Lynn Szymoniak.

To back up and give a bit more context first (and do read the very good overview by Dave Dayen), the Florida attorney’s general office recently underwent a regime change. The old AG, Bill McCollum, was a Republican but nevertheless launched some investigations into foreclosure abuses, specifically against the biggest foreclosure mills in the state. He left leave last January, replaced by Pam Bondi, who clearly has a much more conciliatory posture towards the mortgage industrial complex (she is on the executive committee of the now multi-state foreclosure settlement effort). In keeping, the old head of the economic crimes division was replace by the aforementioned Richard Lawson, who was in the business of defending white collar criminals, primarily banksters. And he made it clear that he wanted the fraud investigations to be treated “with great sensitivity.” I have to tell you, both in context and based on his actions, that means “go easy and do everything you can to protect the reputations of the parties charged.” Do you think this is even remotely the right priority for the head of an economic crimes unit?

The irony of this report are the repeated complaints about the “unprofessional” conduct of Clarkson and Edwards. Given that the IG considers a barely ordered document dump to be tantamount to a report, I find it hard to believe that the standard of professionalism among legal officers in the Florida government is measurable, let alone high enough for the two canned attorneys to fall short of it.

Similarly, for anyone who has been in the private sector (and that is where Lawson came from) the conduct of the firing was highly irregular. It’s normal for even routing firings to go through a process: the employee is given a warning and/or put on probation, with a witness present, they are told what concrete steps they need to take to improve performance, and notes of the conversation are entered into their personnel file. And most important, firings are always done with a witness present. Instead, Lawson had a one conversations with Edwards and Clarkson, and seems to conveyed his unhappiness primarily through their immediate boss, Robert Julian, who found Clarkson and Edwards to be “invaluable.” From what I can tell, assistant chief AG Robert Julian fired both Clarkson and Edwards verbally via Edwards alone, again a mind-boggling procedure. Lawson operated like a rank amateur, yet keeps harping on “professionalism.” More than a bit of projection at work?

There may be validity in the some substantive complaints. For instance, Lawson claims the duo mistakenly said the SEC was going after LPS when it was the FDIC who was probing LPS. They also called Fidelity a f/k/a (formerly known as) of LPS when it is the reverse (LPS was spun out of Fidelity). But these mistakes were in internal communications, and while they might be worrisome, what matters is what gets out the door. Another complaint is the case files being transferred from Clarkson and Edwards another attorney being in disorder. But we have no context. If Lawson made the assignment abruptly and didn’t give them Clarkson and Edwards time to organize them (and the state apparently lacks a document management system), it shouldn’t be a surprise that the materials were not well organized. In addition, at various points Lawson asked these investigators if they had evidence of allegations made against LPS, such as not being paid by the servicer, and Clarkson and Edwards saying “no”. Just because they did not have evidence in hand did not mean the allegations were untrue and not provable.

The reason I view even these complaints with skepticism is that much of what Lawson says that can be evaluated ranges from strained to embarrassing. Here are some examples.

In the “you cannot make this up” category, Lawson, a law enforcement official, defends forgeries:

Huh, is he SERIOUSLY trying to say that if, say, the janitor signs a corporate check he found lying around the office to pay the company electrical bill, it isn’t fraud? The knowledge in our culture that people sign documents only in their own name is so widely shared that it seems utterly implausible that ANYONE, let alone people in the business of preparing documents involved in legal procedures, could think forgeries are legitimate. The LPS filings by Masto have barely-above-minimum wage witnesses saying they were uncomfortable with “surrogate signing,” a recent Orwellianism for forgery, even after multiple management assurances that it was fine. Lawson’s formulation gets us into Humpty Dumpty “forgery is not forgery if I say it is not forgery” land. He is trying to wind the clock back to before the 1677 Statue of Frauds.

And we have this remark:

Gee, if that’s the case, why is this on the AG’s website now (note the last paragraph)?

6 Responses

  1. Non judicial – don’t know about judicial but the unstopped process going on for years is the original defunct “lender” and original trustee declare the default to the original “lender” who is out of business. Then the successor servicer debt collector (no ownership of mortgage) assigns it “For Value Received” to a trust that closed years ago and the signer works for the trustee sales company not even the servicer collector. How can this go on unopposed? Where is there anyone who cares about homeowners who have no clue or no money to fight little individual cases that get ignored in court?

  2. Kimberli Wilson

    I second your question for CA and all other states. Why not combine all the mortgages with same “assignment” from and too the same parties into seperate class action cases?

  3. Hi Neil, I think you’ll want to take a look at the blog by Mark Stopa

    http://www.stayinmyhome.com/blog/2012/01/foreclosure-fraud-the-double-standard/

    also I hear Edwards & Clarkson PA set up shop in Hollywood, FL.

    I think most Floridians are really starting to regret electing Rick Scott. It’s amazing someone can go and defraud the federal gov’t (HCA/Columbia), get away with it, and then get elected in a state that is carried by the senior vote. Bondi’s firings had to come from Scott, and the LPS contributions to their campaigns (I think it has been in the neighborhood of 200k, if not more). You’d think Edwards & Clarkson would have been hailed as champions for netting 2 million for the state, not to mention they were has careers of 20+ & 30+ years respectively.

    Tyzão

  4. It is common knowledge that attorneys are getting licensed in Florida to file class action lawsuits in south Florida because the grumpy old people won’t take any crap! I don’t understand why
    some great attorney in south Florida is not taking on a contingency, all cases to go before a jury trial, where there is a fake assignment of mortgage. Even if your original loan says you can’t have a jury trial in reference to the loan, you are not suing a party to the loan, you are suing someone who has no connection to the loan and their attorney for falsifying documents and trying to be a part of your loan with forgery. Watch how fast the old people return everybody’s money because they know the banks have destroyed Florida and the FBI has determined Florida to be the worst state for Mortgage Fraud. 🙂 Can someone tell me if this would work? And why has this not been done already Just curious??????

  5. Boy have times changed. We were warned that if we even missed one initial in a 25 page contract and ever initialed for the purchaser rather then calling the purchaser to come back in to initial, it would be instant termination. Now forgery, cutting and pasting, throw away one document substitute with another, robo signing, etc., seems to be A OK with corportaions now days. They are outraged that people would be bothered by these trivial little matters.This is a perfect example of why there were strict rules and it was never OK to so much as initial for someone else.

  6. I don’t know the 4DCA but the FL SC is still mostly Democrat appointed and they don’t seem to like Governor Scott… I don’t think Pam Bondi is owned by the banks ,, I KNOW Rick Scott is and s**t runs downhill … Bondi is taking orders and isn’t the brightest to begin with… Lets hope the SC decides to rain on Scotts money machine.. This is 2012 ,, we need to get FFOIA requests in for anything in the banking and AG universe.

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    http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Florida_FOIA_procedures#How_to_request_public_records_in_Florida

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