Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers recently found a Politico article which makes the point that foreclosures shouldn’t just be treated as a life-altering problem, but also as a crime scene.
What bank officials did has caused a momentous spike in Miami foreclosures and in the number of people who had to work out short sales or consider strategic default as a result.
Banks ordered robo-signing and altered documents in order to support a foreclosure. They have thus far gotten off without any real penalties. Many are still making their seven figure bonuses and large salaries despite these actions.
It’s about time that prosecutors start holding these people accountable for ruining our real estate market and leading to many Miami residents having their homes taken away because of unlawful actions.
In the first part of our series on this Miami foreclosure blog topic, we discussed how several attorneys general, not including Florida’s, have gone against the grain in pursuit of these criminals. While the Obama administration has pushed these state prosecutors to agree to a settlement with banks to let them off the hook for their wrongs with few questions asked, about half a dozen have decided not to engage in talks. This will allow them to continue their prosecution of bank officials in lieu of receiving what amounts to a payoff.
Interestingly enough, one of these state attorneys is Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joseph Biden. He is suing MERS for unfair and deceptive practices. Attorneys general in New York, Nevada, Massachusetts and elsewhere are fighting back.
The second part of this blog series will look at the problems that these bank officials have caused the court system and the people who have had their life savings depleted because of the greed.
Some reports have suggested that bankers pushed borrowers into subprime loans because the interest rates were higher and they were more attractive to investors. In fact, there have been lawsuits filed alleging that black and Hispanic borrowers were discriminated against because some qualified for normal loans, but were pushed into subprime loans.
And while President Obama himself said what has happened on Wall Street wasn’t criminal, only “the last ethical,” banks have admitted to breaking the law. Earlier this year, Politico reports, JPMorgan bankers were found to have violated the Servicemember Civil Relief Act, which protects military members from foreclosure. The bank foreclosed on 18 military families.
Regulators have found recently that as many as 5,000 military families have been sent into foreclosure illegally, despite built-in protections from the SCRA. And as it seems to go, the Justice Department settled with Bank of America for alleged violations of the act, which allows the bank to not have to admit doing anything wrong.
The Politico article points out that Obama’s statement about Wall Street’s actions being unethical is incorrect. The servicemember act has been on the books since 2003 and although the president said laws need to be changed, they were already in place. The article reports that the George H.W. Bush administration sent about 3,000 white-collar criminals to prison and yet the Obama administration has yet to send one.
The article suggests that the current Attorney General hasn’t brought any criminal charges against those involved in illegal military foreclosures or foreclosure fraud. Instead of pursuing these cases criminally, it appears the current administration is happy to settle with banks to get money instead of prison time.
Sadly, this has allowed criminals to get away with crimes and has left homeowners stuck in a Miami foreclosure. When the government settles out of court for cash instead of prison time, where does the money go? Does it bring people’s homes back? No. There really is no justice in what the government has been doing.
If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas, contact Jacobs Keeley for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991.
More Blog Entries:
A Miami Foreclosure Is Not Only a Tragedy, But a Crime Scene: Part 1: December 27, 2011
Treat foreclosure as a crime scene, by Matt Stoller, Politico