Two years ago, then-state Attorney General Bill McCollum came out strong against a number of Florida law firms, hired by banks, who willfully participated in the illegal foreclosure of thousands of homes through robo-singing practices of forgery and fraud.
Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers remember in Aug. 2010 when McCollum held a press conference to announce an investigation was being launched against these firms, which were suspected of having a hand in thousands of fraudulent foreclosure judgements throughout the state.
He was heralded for taking a stand against these “foreclosure mills,” and many praised Florida’s progressiveness for taking the reins and handling the matter so deftly.
But two years later, just one of the seven firms identified has reached a settlement with state officials, and that was for $2 million. The settlement did not require the firm to admit wrongdoing.
The other six are reportedly “winding down,” according to current Attorney General Pam Bondi, though a state court decision that restricted Bondi’s office from issuing subpoenas to the firms means that the investigations now have fewer teeth. In fact, a Bondi spokesman said that any enforcement action or punishment would have to be meted out by the Florida Bar.
The Bar, in turn, has responded that it doesn’t investigate complaints against entire firms – only individual attorneys.
What that means is basically that no one is held accountable.
This let-down follows announcement last year that the office’s top two foreclosure investigators were fired. The attorney general’s office indicated there were actually 14 people total working on the case, but the ousters drew widespread criticism because it occurred just after the two, who had been employed as economic crime investigators, had revealed widespread fraud in the banking industry.
The law firms are still listed on the attorney general’s website as being under civil investigation, but it appears at this point that nothing is going to be done. As of right now, all of those involved reportedly remain in good standing with the Florida Bar. In fact, not one attorney involved in this scandal has been punished.
People have lost their homes to companies that cheated them. These firms used their knowledge of the legal system to violate the trust instilled in them and force people illegally from their homes. These firms lined their pockets, and yet they will pay no restitution to the people they harmed.
Some of the firms have reportedly even offered up voluntary settlement agreements with the state – no doubt outlining terms more favorable to them – but the state reportedly has yet to even respond to those proposals.
One housing analyst from West Palm Beach was quoted by a reporter as saying it comes down to who the Bar and the state officials truly represent. The inaction on these matters would suggest it’s not the public.
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.